Obamacare continues to divide the public. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, 44 percent approve, 42 percent disapprove of the Affordable Care Act. Health care remains one of the top issues overall – and the top issue for Democratic voters, but Democrats are open to alternatives to Obamacare. In fact, few Democrats (and few Americans) say they want the system created by the Affordable Care Act to remain as it is today.
Two-thirds of Democrats want to expand the ACA; three-quarters of Republicans would repeal it.
The Democratic presidential candidates take somewhat different positions on how to do health care better. This poll suggests that Democratic voters would support all of their proposals, with Medicare for All, the position of seven of the 10 Democrats who debated last week (including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, two of the three frontrunners), the most popular alternative with Democratic primary voters. [Candidates who support Medicare for All don’t necessarily agree on all the details.]
The other three, including former Vice President Joe Biden, would support a public option.
There is less support – though still a majority among Democratic voters – for eliminating private insurance and having the government as the sole medical insurance provider.
The health care debate among voters is focused on doing something about health care, and not necessarily on what exactly to do. In fact, about a third of Democratic primary voters favor all three approaches to dealing with health care, some of which clearly are incompatible with the others. Consequently, candidate support does not appear related to the specific plan. Biden, Warren and Sanders lead with those who favor each of the three proposals – as well as with those who favor all three.
Just over one in five Democratic voters say health care is their most important issue. One third in this group say Biden is their first choice.