A lesson from Obamacare for Brexit: details of abolition can make something much more popular

Polling on Obamacare's popularity

For years, Republicans railed against President Obama’s healthcare reforms (‘Obamacare‘) and public opinion was against it. From 2010 through to the 2016 US Presidential election, there were consistently more people disapproving than approving of Obamacare. Disapprove was always at least five points ahead of approve on the Real Clear Politics rolling polling average, for example, and even peaked several times at more than fifteen points ahead.

But then there was a remarkable swing in a short period of time. From a steady disapprove lead of nine points or so through May, June, July, August, September and October 2016, there was a sharp and sustained shift towards approval of Obamacare. For the last three months indeed Рand for the first time ever Рconsistently more people approved of it than disapproved of it.

And when did this shift start? When in November 2016 Donald Trump stopped talking about abolishing Obamacare and started dealing with the details of how abolition would be done. The more the details of axing it were talked about, the more popular it became.

A lesson for Brexit perhaps…

3 responses to “A lesson from Obamacare for Brexit: details of abolition can make something much more popular”

  1. OK, so now Obamacare is being dismantled, its good points are coming to light, and people are campaigning to keep or amend it so it becomes more effective. One can imagine large user-groups and some drugs companies putting money into a campaign of this sort.
    The hope is that the Brexit issue will develop similarly. Sadly, there is still very little hard information available, and little sign that the UK’s financial or manufacturing sectors feel like making a fight of it.

  2. Maybe. But it also seems possible that Obamacare became more popular for a couple of other reasons.

    Firstly, 2016 saw big steps in terms of implementation for large and (even more so) small businesses. Opponents forecast a disaster, and big cost increases. But it was the dog that didn’t bark – Obamacare is now substantially implemented, the sky hasn’t fallen, and many people have benefited. Brexiteers might well hope it’ll be the same.

    Secondly, Trump is obviously hugely divisive, and some people probably simply changed view so they weren’t on his side of the debate.

    • What’s striking is how closely matched up the change in poll figures are with widespread media coverage of Trump’s plans. E.g. there wasn’t a growing shift in opinion during the year, it started right at the time of the talk about Trump’s plans – there wasn’t (as far as I know) anything significant in terms of the coverage roll out in November than could similarly explain a shift in polling starting in November rather than in any other month.

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