For the first time since the Quinnipiac poll began asking the question, Americans are equally likely to trust Obama as Congressional Republicans with handling health care policy (42 to 43 percent respectively. In fact, just a few weeks ago, President Obama enjoyed a 9-point advantage over his GOP colleagues (47 to 38 percent) for handling health care.
A plurality of young Americans 18-29, a key Obama constituency, were actually slightly more likely to trust Republicans in Congress than Obama on health care by a margin of 46 to 41 percent). A plurality of independents also favored the Congressional GOP over Obama by a margin of 47 to 32 percent. A slim plurality of Latinos favored Obama to Republicans on health care 49 to 41, compared to Caucasians who favored Republicans (50 to 34 percent) and African-Americans who favored Obama (78 to 13 percent). Despite the so-called Republican War on Women, Obama only retains a 2-point advantage among women (44 to 42 percent), while men favor Republicans (44 to 39 percent).
Obama's slipping advantage is particularly surprising given the president's previous upper hand on an issue traditionally owned by Democrats. Not only that, but Republican favorability sank to record lows just a few weeks ago during the government shutdown.
However, once public debate over the government shutdown settled, attention focused on the messy and glitch-laden launch of the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchange websites. The websites managed to only sign up 6 enrollees in the first day. Thus far the Wall Street Journal reports that only about 100,000 Americans have enrolled in federal and state run exchanges, falling about 80 percent short of the 500,000 enrollments the administration's models had predicted.
Reports of insurers cancelling millions of Americans' health insurance policies despite President Obama's repeated promises that "if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan" have further disillusioned the public.
Quinnipiac also found that only 36 percent of Americans approve of President Obama's handling of health care, independent of a comparison, compared to 43 percent in October.
Amidst the government shut down just a few weeks ago, few would have guessed the public would trust the Republicans on major issues, let alone health care. However, the roll out of President Obama's signature health care law has proven a difficult and uncertain process. Even before the shutdown 62 percent of Americans thought implementation of the ACA was not going well.
Perhaps the last few months have further demonstrated why it is not often that federal government can be trusted to do things well.