Obamacare growing more popular with time

Effective communication from government officials, detailing what the law does and does not do, may be more effective than any political communication on the issue.

If Republicans are betting Obamacare will sweep them into power this November, they may be in for a surprise.

The latest Kaiser tracking poll on health reform now shows a 50-35 spread between approval and disapproval, up from a 46-41 spread in April, when the legislation was fresh.

A look inside the numbers shows 27% still want the law repealed, with the country now equally split among those who think it makes their family better off, worse off, or makes no difference. That's close to the figures found when the law was signed. Negative views of it spiked in June to 39%.

What seems to be happening is that people who are told to hate the law by people they trust do continue to hate it, while distance in time is mellowing opposition among others. Some 69% of Republicans remain opposed, 53% of them fiercely so, but independents now split 48-37 in favor.

There remains room for improvement based on information, the poll shows. Some 36% of seniors still believe the "death panel" myth and 45% believe it will weaken the Medicare trust fund -- in fact it extends its life to 2019.

The figures are similar to those in a National Council on Aging poll released earlier this week, showing most seniors remain in the dark about the law's provisions. Other polls show that confusion over provisions to be general.

What those figures mean is that effective communication from government officials, detailing what the law does and does not do, may be more effective than any political communication on the issue. At least among those willing to listen to government communication.

When the law was first passed, Democrats predicted approval would increase over time, focusing on popular provisions going into effect quickly. Republicans have succeeded in keeping the issue alive among their base, however, and Democrats have generally gone silent.

The next data point on all this will come next week, when Missouri voters are expected to approve a ballot measure during party primaries condemning the law's provision mandating the purchase of insurance coverage. Turnout for the primary is projected at 24%. Most of the contested primaries are on the Republican side.

(My own view of politics is the elections are still about the economy, stupid. Specifically, unemployment and jobless claims. But I digress.)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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