Politics & Policy

The Political Need for an Obamacare Alternative

Our latest congressional polling suggests the issue is pressing.

As Republicans discuss the policy alternative to replace Obamacare, the political benefits are clear and decisive.

Our April national poll of 1,000 likely voters showed the same majority job disapproval for the president, 47 percent approval to 52 percent disapproval, similar to the findings of many other polls.

The same is true for the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, with 45 percent approving to 51 percent disapproving. (For PowerPoint slides of the poll numbers, see here.)

However, despite the majority disapproval for the president and Obamacare, the Democrats hold a thin lead in the generic ballot for Congress, 43 percent to 41 percent, with 16 percent undecided:

Democrats lead decisively among independent women, 37 percent to 22 percent, and moderate voters, 42 percent to 31 percent.

In fact, 18 percent of all voters who disapprove of the job the president is doing do not plan to vote for Republicans for Congress. Among those voters, 42 percent say they’re still going to vote for Democrats.

In addition, when we asked the voters, “Should the Republicans propose a new plan of their own to improve health care by repealing and replacing Obamacare or just run in opposition to repeal Obamacare,” almost two-thirds, 63 percent, favored a new plan to replace Obamacare.

Only one in five voters, 21 percent, favored repeal alone. Among the key voter groups that favored a new plan: Those who disapprove of Obama’s job performance but aren’t yet voting Republican favored it 57 percent to 27 percent; undecided voters favored it 56 percent to 20 percent; independent women favored it 62 percent to 18 percent; and moderates favored it 63 percent to 19 percent.

By a three-to-one margin, 48 percent to 17 percent, voters were more likely to vote for Republicans who would repeal and replace Obamacare if they also proposed a new plan of their own to improve health care.

Furthermore, positioning a “Republican who wants to repeal and replace Obamacare” against a “Democrat who wants to keep and fix Obamacare” delivers a net six-point gain on the generic ballot to Republicans. The Republican now leads, 47 percent to 43 percent:


The Republican also leads among those who disapprove of Obama but did not vote Republican at first, 49 percent to 26 percent; among the undecided for Congress, 38 percent to 25 percent; and among independent women, 40 percent to 33 percent.

The message is clear. Republicans need a popular alternative to replace Obamacare. 

— John McLaughlin and Jim McLaughlin are Republican strategists and partners in the national polling firm McLaughlin & Associates.


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