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Survey: Republicans Like Obamacare a Lot More if You Call It by a Different Name

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Obamacare isn't very popular. People don't like it, even if they don't support repeal. But what about the law do people find so objectionable? Are they reacting to what the law actually does, or to the law's name? A new poll from Morning Consult sheds some light on that question.

The survey solicited opinion on Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, but split respondents into two different groups. One group got the following question: Do you think all states should expand Medicaid as encouraged under the Affordable Care Act? Sixty-two percent of all respondents said yes, but there's a sharp partisan split. Among self-identified Republicans, 49 percent said no and just 36 percent said yes.

Morning Consult survey on Medicaid and Obamacare

The second group of respondents got a slightly different question: Do you think all states should offer Medicaid to low income adults who make below the federal poverty line. The new wording didn't really change how Democratic respondents felt. But it had a clear effect on everybody else.

Support among independents rose by 13 percentage points and support among Republicans rose by 15 percent. That pushed overall support for the Medicaid expansion—i.e., among all respondents—up to 71 percent.

Morning Consult Survey on Medicaid

One takeaway from this survey is that, even with the name attached, the Medicaid expansion is popular.

Another is that the politics of the Affordable Care Act are complicated, as writers like Greg Sargent have been writing for a while. When people say they have negative feelings about Obamacare, they may not be talking about the law itself. They may be reacting to the president who signed it.