McInturff-Harrington Morning Consult Column (6-6-14): Impact of the ACA on the 2014 Congressional Elections

Despite the varying news climate over time, attitudes about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have been remarkably stable. National surveys from NBC/WSJ, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Washington Post-ABC News consistently show that voters have a net negative opinion about the health care law regardless of the scale used to measure attitudes (Good Idea/Bad Idea, Favorable/Unfavorable, or Support/Oppose). This trend of stronger opposition to the law than support continues to be true in 2014.

But when it comes down to it, will the health care law be a vote issue in the Congressional elections this year? Yes.

Public Opinion Strategies has conducted multiple national polls this year measuring voter attitudes about the health care law and the impact the law may have on reported vote behavior this cycle.

  • Voters report that a Congressional candidate’s position on the health care law will be a factor in determining how they will vote (9% of voters said it would be the most important factor, 51% major factor, 29% minor factor, 10% not an important factor at all). This data further shows the challenge that lies ahead for Democratic candidates this cycle. Voters who say a candidate’s position on the law will be a greater factor in determining how they vote are more opposed to the law.

Support/Oppose Health Care Law by Impact of Candidate’s Position in
Determining Vote for Congress

Most Important
Factor (9%)

Major Factor (51%) Minor/Not Important
Factor (39%)
Support Law 30% 37% 33%
Oppose Law 60% 53% 30%
Net Difference -30 -16 +3
This data is from a national poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Peter Hart released in March, but is consistent and data was replicated on a proprietary national poll we just finished in late May.
  • From our recently released national May poll, the generic Congressional ballot is even within the margin of error (42% Republican candidate/43% Democratic candidate). When voters are presented with the competing frames of “a Republican candidate who supports repealing and replacing the health care law” versus “a Democratic candidate who supports keeping and fixing the health care law” the Congressional vote is dead even (45% Republican Candidate – Repeal/Replace, 45% Democratic Candidate – Keep/Fix). However, what is more compelling is comparing the shift in how Independents vote on the generic vote compared to the health care vote.  A “repeal & replace” position helps Republican Congressional candidates pick up a majority of Independents.


Generic Congressional & Health Care Law Ballot Among Independents

Congressional Ballot

Health Care Law
Congressional Ballot

Republican Candidate 32% 53%
Democratic Candidate 21% 29%
Undecided 39% 12%

These surveys show that a candidate’s position on the ACA does have an impact on how the majority of people are going to vote for Congress this election cycle and it clearly outlines how problematic this issue could be for Democratic candidates in 2014.

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