Does the Public Now Favor ObamaCare's Health Insurance Mandate?


A CNN poll released Monday contained an unexpected finding: A majority of respondents said they favored ObamaCare's individual mandate to purchase health insurance—a provision that has historically been deeply unpopular. A New York Times news analysis looking at how the mandate has affected the health law politically suggests one reason why the CNN poll might have produced the result it did:

Polls show that the individual mandate is unpopular. The Kaiser Family Foundation, which tracks public opinion on the health measure, reported in March that 74 percent of Americans would keep, rather than repeal, the law's provision barring insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions. But only 27 percent would keep the mandate. (A CNN poll released Monday found that 52 percent supported the mandate, up from 44 percent in June, though unlike Kaiser, CNN did not explain that failure to comply would result in a fine.)

It's possible that the CNN poll reveals a genuine shift in attitudes about the mandate; the same poll showed that just 44 percent of the public favored the mandate in June. But it seems more likely that the increase in support is a result of both the wording of the question and natural variation in polling results, and that the mandate isn't substially more popular now than it was a few months ago. We'll have a better idea as more polls are released.