Is health care reform hurting the Democrats?

November 27, 2013, 4:31 PM GMT+0

More than half of Americans want the new health reform law repealed, while a majority of Americans hold an unfavorable opinion of President Obama.

The last six weeks of the problem-riddled rollout of the Affordable Care Act and its website,, have taken a toll on opinions about the law, the President and Democrats in general. For the first time in Economist/YouGov Polls, more than half think the law should be repealed. And while opinions about user experience at state health care exchanges are more positive than negative, the federal website continues to be mired in problems, according to the poll.

The percentage saying the law is now a failure has risen nine points in two weeks. 58% call the law a failure currently, while just 12% think it is a success. However, most Americans are still willing to give the Affordable Care Act time before passing final judgment; many of the 33% who are willing to make a final decision today are Republicans, who are overwhelmingly opposed to the law.

Just a third of the public wants the law to be either expanded or kept as it is. The continued website problems may have also made Americans even more leery of what they might face in their future health care. By more than three to one, they expect that they, personally, will receive worse health care, and not better health care, under the law. Those figures have gotten more negative just in the last week.

Even those currently without health insurance are pretty sure things will be worse for them under the new law. Many of them are not sure what they will finally do when it comes to procuring health insurance coverage. One in four say they are more likely to accept the government’s fine for not purchasing health coverage – just as many as say they will get coverage. But more than half aren’t sure what they will end up doing.

Impressions about the state health care exchanges have improved in the last week. The percentage of state exchange users reporting a positive experience on a state site has risen a bit in a week, from 35% to 40%. A quarter still say their experience on a state site has been negative.

Reports from those attempting to use the federal site remain overwhelmingly negative, with those reporting a negative experience outnumbering those who say their experience was positive by more than two to one. That balance has not changed much even as programmers have worked to try and fix some of the problems.

One issue that has bothered some users of – that of data security – turns out to be an online security issue, and not one limited to 59% are not confident that their information on is private; but 66% are not confident in general about what they do online. Those who have visited the site are not much different than the public overall when it comes to evaluating the security of

Website difficulties and other problems with the rollout have hurt Democrats in general, including the President. By 45% to 34%, Americans want to fire someone over the website’s problems; by 41% to 33%, Americans think Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius should lose her job.

Opinions of Sibelius are generally negative. Only 23% of the public have a favorable view of her; 49% are unfavorable.

But the President also appears to have lost support. His approval rating is just 37%, one point above his all-time low. 58%, more than ever before and an increase of eight points in the last week, disapprove.

More than one in five Democrats disapprove of the way the President is handling his job.

The President’s overall favorable assessment is also down. Just 17% describe the President as “effective.” Only 41% of the public view him favorably this week; 54% are unfavorable, a six-point jump in the last week. For most of 2013, overall opinions of the President have been divided between those who like him, and those who do not.

Even opinions about the Democratic Party in general have suffered. Although both parties typically get negative assessments from the public, Democrats fare somewhat better than Republicans. That is still the case, but the gap has narrowed. By a margin of 68% to 25%, Americans have an unfavorable view of the GOP. Those percentages are similar to those the public expressed last week.

Last week, 50% had unfavorable opinions of the Democratic Party, and 38% were favorable. This week, unfavorable views of the Democrats have risen seven points. 37% are positive about the Democratic Party and 57% are not.

Full results can be found here.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.

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