Surprise! Democrats Benefit More From Obamacare Than Republicans.


Sarah Kliff points today to an interesting new Kaiser poll about Obamacare. The question is whether Obamacare has directly helped or hurt your family. It turns out that far more Democrats think it’s helped them than Republicans.

Now, there are some reasons to think this is objectively true. Obamacare exchanges have generally been more effective in blue states, signing up more people. Medicaid expansion has been almost entirely limited to blue states. And Obamacare is directed primarily at those with low incomes, who lean heavily Democratic. Put all this together, and you’d expect that a lot more Democrats have benefited from Obamacare than Republicans.

However, Kliff thinks this doesn’t explain the entire gap. A lot of it is just plain partisanship: “Democrats likely overestimate the health law’s reach, Republicans underestimate and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.” I suspect that’s true, and it’s the chart on the right that demonstrates it most clearly. Take a look at the question in the middle. A full 34 percent of Republicans say they personally know someone who lost their insurance thanks to Obamacare. Given the rather small number of people who actually fall into this category, it’s vanishingly unlikely that 34 percent of Republicans truly know someone who lost coverage. But since they don’t like Obamacare, I suppose they’re more likely to count friends of friends, or someone that Aunt Millie told them about, or someone they heard about at that party last Christmas. Democrats probably act the opposite.

On the other hand, the results of the question about gaining coverage actually seem fairly reasonable to me. I’d expect about a 2:1 difference between Republicans and Democrats, and that’s what we see. For some reason, I suspect that people are answering questions about gaining coverage fairly honestly. It’s only on the issue of losing coverage that partisan loyalties are skewing the results.

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