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The Completely Overblown Polling Divide on Obamacare vs. Affordable Care Act

Several media outlets are making a big deal of the fact that according to the new CNBC survey 46 percent of Americans view “Obamacare” negatively, while only 37 percent view the “Affordable Care Act” negative. In reality there is nothing revealing about these different numbers beside that it shows fewer people simply know the term “Affordable Care Act” refers to the health care law.

While fewer people have a negative view of the ACA, a proportionally fewer also have a positive view of it. Only 12 percent answered don’t know when asked about Obamacare, but 30 percent answered don’t know to the ACA question. Supporters and opponents of the law were equally as likely not to know the official name. After all, Obamacare or the “new health care law” have been the most common ways to refer to it.

When you look only at the people in the poll who had an opinion, the overall level of support and opposition was identical regardless of the name used. Among people who have an opinion about Obamacare 52.2 percent hold a negative opinion. Similarly among people who have an opinion about ACA 52.9 percent view it negatively. From this perspective the term Obamacare marginally helps to make it more popular.

Support for the law doesn’t change based on the name, Obamacare is simply the more recognized name for the law.

Photo by Ano Lobb under Creative Commons license

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at