POLL: House Majority Not at Stake Over Defunding of Obamacare

For Immediate Release
Washington – With citizens across America asking their congressman to support defunding Obamacare, Heritage Action CEO Michael A. Needham alongside leading pollster Jon Lerner today released a poll showing the idea of defunding Obamacare is broadly supported. Moreover, the potential of a partial government shutdown does little to dampen the desire to stop the implementation of Obamacare.

Independents in the survey strongly support defunding Obamacare by a margin of 57 percent to 34 percent. Further, only 20 percent of voters in these districts support going forward with Obamacare unchanged.

Heritage Action for America released the following statement from CEO Michael A. Needham:

This poll demonstrates that the Left cannot win the argument on either the policy front or the political front.  Americans – including 57 percent of independents in ten critical congressional districts – favor defunding Obamacare.  House Republicans should be much more concerned with the fallout of failing to defund Obamacare than with the imaginary fallout of doing so.

Similarly, Heritage Action pollster Jon Lerner concluded:

There is no present evidence that a move to de-fund Obamacare, and the potential of a partial government shutdown, would harm Republican prospects of holding the House majority.  In fact, the very same voters who are critical to keeping the majority – Independents in potentially competitive districts – hold highly negative views on Obamacare and strongly favor a slow down in implementation or outright repeal of the law.

Heritage Action is hosting its Defund Obamacare Town Hall Tour beginning Monday, August 19 in Fayetteville, Arkansas to bolster support for the conservative defund strategy.  The tour will take place in nine cities across the country and will feature Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham and special guest Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint.

>> To read the poll’s top line results, click here. (PDF link.)

>> To read the full poll and cross-tabs, click here. (100+ page PDF link.)

 

Methodology

 

On August 7-8, 2013, Basswood Research conducted a nationwide survey of likely general election voters in ten different Congressional districts.  Six of those House districts are presently held by Republicans, four are held by Democrats.  They broadly represent a cross-section of Republican-leaning but not safe-Republican districts.  The Republican held seats are FL-2, IL-18, NJ-7, NC-2, OH-12, and OR-2.  The Democratic held seats are GA-12, NC-7, UT-4, and WV-3.  The survey was conducted by live professional interviewers by telephone.  The sample had 100 interviews in each of the ten districts, yielding an overall sample size of 1000, with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%, at a 95% confidence interval for the overall sample.

 

Key Findings

 

Discontent with Obamacare is vast.

Only 20% of voters in these districts support going forward with Obamacare unchanged.  Thirty-two percent express concerns about Obamacare, and a desire to slow down its implementation and make changes to the law, while a 45% plurality think the law should be repealed.  Thus, 77% favor either a slow down in implementation or an outright repeal.  Only 5% of Republicans and 17% of Independents favor proceeding with Obamacare fully and without changes.  Even among Democrats, just 42% fully embrace Obamacare, with 36% agreeing that it should be slowed down, and 17% favoring repeal.

The idea of “de-funding” Obamacare is broadly supported.  

When asked the straight question, “Do you support or oppose de-funding, or removing the funding, from the Obama health care law?” respondent voters supported de-funding 57%-34%.  Among those with strong opinions on either side, those who “strongly support” de-funding outnumbered those who “strongly oppose” de-funding by a 41%-22% margin, signifying much greater intensity among opponents of the law.  Among swing voting Independents, support for de-funding came in at 57%-34%, exactly mirroring the result in the overall sample.

The potential of a partial government shutdown does little dampen the desire to stop Obamacare implementation.

By a 2:1 margin (60%-29%), voters approve of “a temporary slowdown in non-essential federal government operations, which still left all essential government services running,” in order to get President Obama to agree to at least have a “time out” on implementing the health care law.  Once again, Independents’ support closely mirrored the overall sample at 61%-30% in favor of de-funding.

Should an impasse over Obamacare funding result in a shutdown of non-essential government operations, blame would be shared between President Obama and Republicans.

Because Obamacare is so closely associated with the president himself, voters have a widespread perception that the president is uncompromising about it.  By 63%-27%, voters believe that President Obama would “insist that the health care law go forward, even if that means forcing a budget showdown and temporarily shutting down the government,” rather than “compromise and agree to some changes or delays in the health care law.”  Further, when voters are asked whom they would blame in the event of a dispute over funding the health care law that resulted in a partial government shutdown, 33% of voters said “Republicans in Congress” or “The Tea Party,” 41% said “Democrats in Congress” or “President Obama,” and 17% said “all of them.”  Predictably, Democratic and Republican voters heavily found fault with their rival party.  Among Independents, the groups on the Right collectively were blamed by 36%, the groups on the Left were collectively blamed by 30%, and 26% blamed both.

 

Conclusions

 

Notwithstanding the fact that 40% of the districts included in this survey are represented by Democrats in Congress, as a whole these potentially contested districts do lean Republican.  The aggregated partisan lean of these districts is not much different from that of the entire House Republican majority.  Therefore, the opinions expressed in these districts shed light on the degree of political danger posed to the House Republican majority from taking action to de-fund Obamacare.

There is no present evidence that a move to de-fund Obamacare, and the potential of a partial government shutdown, would harm Republican prospects of holding the House majority.  In fact, the very same voters who are critical to keeping the majority – Independents in potentially competitive districts — hold highly negative views on Obamacare and strongly favor a slow down in implementation or outright repeal of the law.

President Obama’s close association with the signature achievement of his administration gives him less flexibility to paint Obamacare opponents as extreme.  When it comes to Obamacare, voters see the president as uncompromising, and see the idea of a “time out” or slow down in implementation of the law as reasonable.  In a battle over funding of the unpopular law, blame for an ensuing partial government shutdown would likely be shared between the two parties.

 

About Basswood Research

 

Since its founding in 2001, Basswood Research has conducted survey research in every state and in hundreds of congressional districts and local communities.  Its founder and principal, Jon Lerner, has been recognized by Roll Call, National Journal, the Washington Post and others as one of the leading Republican pollsters in the nation.  Basswood has helped elect more than two dozen U.S. Senators, Members of Congress, and Governors.  It has served as pollster for leading conservative advocacy groups, and it has conducted surveys for the national Republican Party committees at the RGA, NRSC, and NRCC.