The popularity of the Republican health care bill declined over the past week even as its chances of becoming law improved after its passage by the House, underscoring the political peril President Donald Trump and the GOP face in their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Voters have low expectations — few believe the bill, if enacted, will make the U.S. health care system better, increase the number of Americans with health coverage, improve the quality of their own care or decrease the costs for them and their family.
And as the Senate prepares to take up the legislation, the POLITICO/Morning Consult also shows declines in voters’ views of Trump’s job performance and his party’s standing in next year’s congressional elections.
Only 38 percent of voters approve of the GOP-drafted health care bill, the new poll shows — down from 42 percent last week, prior to the House’s party-line vote to advance the measure. Forty-four percent of voters disapprove of the bill, up significantly from 37 percent last month. Eighteen percent of voters say they don’t know or have no opinion of the bill.
In fact, voters have a more positive opinion of the law the new legislation seeks to supplant: Half of voters now approve of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, while 42 percent disapprove.
Opposition to the Republican bill is more forceful than support for the measure — a gap driven by greater relative intensity among Democrats than Republicans.
"These latest polling numbers on the American Health Care Act could spell trouble for Republicans," said Kyle Dropp, Morning Consult’s chief research officer and co-founder. "There is a notable enthusiasm gap: 29 percent strongly oppose the bill, but only 13 percent strongly support it. Moreover, we saw the number of Republican voters who strongly support the bill drop from 36 percent last week to 27 percent this week."
The poll was conducted May 4-6 — with interviews beginning following the House’s 217-214 vote to advance the bill. All interviews were completed on Sunday, well before the announcement late Tuesday that Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey.
On health care, 45 percent of voters say they trust Democrats in Congress to handle the issue — greater than the 36 percent who trust Republicans more. Last week, Democrats held a 5-point lead on that question, 42 percent to 37 percent.
Voters also have little hope the new bill — if it becomes law — will improve the U.S. health care system or their own health care, the poll shows. Fewer believe the bill will make the health care system better (26 percent) than believe it will make it worse (41 percent). Only a quarter think it will make the quality of care better, while 36 percent think it will make it worse. Just 19 percent think the bill would increase the number of Americans with health insurance — far fewer than the 46 percent who think fewer Americans would have insurance.
A 42-percent plurality think the bill will increase health care costs for their family, compared to only 18 percent who believe it will decrease costs and 15 percent who don’t think it will have an impact on their health care costs. A quarter of voters aren’t sure how the bill would impact their health care costs.
While Trump and House Republicans celebrated passage of the health care bill in the White House Rose Garden last week, the POLITICO/Morning Consult bill suggests their efforts have weakened their political standing.
Trump’s approval rating slid from 48 percent last week to 44 percent in the new survey. The percentage of voters who disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president ticked up from 46 percent last week to 49 percent in this week’s poll.
Republicans remain supportive of Trump: 84 percent approve of the job he is doing, the poll shows. While that exceeds Trump’s 80-percent disapproval rating among Democrats, Trump’s rating among independents — 38 percent approve and 50 percent disapprove — tilts negative.
Trump’s approval rating is net-negative for the first time since late March and early April, in the wake of the House’s failure to advance an earlier version of the health care bill.
"We’ve seen Trump’s approval dip this much only once before — right after the House failed to pass the first version of the AHCA," said Dropp, referencing a 10-point swing in Trump’s net approval rating in late March.
There are other red flags for Republicans: Democrats have a 6-point lead on the 2018 generic congressional ballot, 42 percent to 36 percent. In last week’s survey, the two parties were tied at 41 percent.
Only 24 percent of voters say they would be more likely to vote to reelect a member of Congress who voted for the bill — fewer than the 37 percent who say it would make them less likely to vote to reelect their member. Nineteen percent say it wouldn’t change their mind either way, and another 19 percent say they don’t know.
A 44-percent plurality of Republicans say they would be more likely to vote for a member who supported the bill. Among Democrats, a greater percentage, 61 percent, would be less likely to vote for a member who voted for the bill. And more independents, 34 percent, would be less likely to vote for a member who backed the legislation than would be more likely, 18 percent.
The poll surveyed 1,996 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Morning Consult is a nonpartisan media and technology company that provides data-driven research and insights on politics, policy and business strategy.