The Kaiser Family Foundation publishes the monthly tracking poll that, practically speaking, serves as the canonical survey of public opinion about Obamacare. That's not to say that other surveys don't matter, or that the averages and aggregates aren't important; they are. But if you're only going to look at one number to gauge public opinion about the health law, this is it.
This month's survey is out, and the news for Obamacare is bad. Really bad. So bad, in fact, that I'm not entirely sure I believe it.
In the last month, the survey reports an eight-point increase in unfavorable views of the health law, rising from 45 to 53 percent, and a two point drop in favorability from 39 down to 37.
Unfavorables are at their highest point ever in the survey, and the gap between positive and negative views of the law is nearly as large as it has ever been. Here's Kaiser's graph:
I'm skeptical that this is anything more than a statistical abberation. The jump in unfavorables is too big, too fast; typical month to month variation is much smaller. And there's no obvious explanation for why we'd see a giant spike this month after several months in which negative views of the law softened slightly. This result will need to hold for several more months before I think it represents a real, large spike in negative opinion.
That said, this isn't exactly good news for the law either, especially looked at in context. The size of the spike seems too big, but it suggests the direction public opinion is going post-open-enrollment. The trend is backed up by other polls.
According to the RealClearPolitics average, which combines the results of several other polls, opposition to the health law has increased since May, nearly equaling the negative opinion heights we saw last fall during the botched rollout of the exchanges.
Even if, as I suspect, Kaiser's big spike in negative opinions about the law turns out to largely be a one-time blip related to their sample, the opinion trend here isn't positive. Democrats thought they had partially defused the law as a political issue in the wake of April's unexpectedly large last-minute sign-up surge, but this, combined with other polls of individual races, suggests that Obamacare is likely to continue to be a drag on the party when the mid-term elections arrive in November.