Politics, Spring 2017 Articles

Repeal of Obamacare better than repeal of the Affordable Care Act?

 As Republicans move to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a sizable number of Americans still don’t understand that means the same thing as repealing Obamacare. According to a NYTimes article about a survey conducted by Morning Consult, one-third of Americans don’t know that the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare are equivalent. This confusion is potentially troublesome as the repeal and replacement of “Obamacare” has been a major policy issue on the forefront of President Trump’s priority list, but maybe people are more inclined to want to keep the ACA.

To see if NC State students were affected by how the policy was labeled, we asked half of our respondents if they thought the repeal of “Obamacare” would affect them positively, negatively, or if they were unsure. Meanwhile, the other half was asked the same question, except we substituted “the Affordable Care Act” in place of Obamacare.

The language seems to have a subtle effect on opinions. When the question asked about the Affordable Care Act, 27% said repealing it would be “good for me,” 38% said “bad for me,” and 35% said “unsure.”  Changing it to Obamacare increased by 4% those saying repealing it would be good, and it decreased by 5% those saying it would be bad.

Partisanship seems to explain these differences. Democrats are barely less likely to say it would be good to repeal Obamacare than the ACA, while Independents and Republicans are more likely to say that.  The percentage of Republicans who say it would be good to repeal Obamacare compared to repealing the ACA increase from 63% to 69%, and Independents do the same, increasing from 17% to 33%.

We don’t know if this means that students sincerely don’t know the difference, or if they are trying to answer the question by reasoning from their own party identification. Regardless, students are clearly uncertain what repeal, if it occurs, would mean for them.

A Toplines report for all survey questions, and results, is available here: Big Poll Spring 2017 Toplines

NOTE ON METHODOLOGY: This semesters’ “Big Poll” took place February 14-18, 2017. The survey was administered over the internet to a random sample of 4,500 NCSU undergraduates and 876 completed the survey, generating a 19.5% response rate. Assuming a 50-50 division in opinion calculated at a 95 percent confidence level, the margin of sampling error for this survey is +/-3.25% when questions were answered by the full sample; sampling error increases for estimates when three or more choices were offered, when fewer respondents were asked a version of a question, or when analyzing the opinions of sub-groups, such as when looking just at how females responded to a question.

In addition to sampling error, other forms of non-sampling error occur in surveys, such as confusion about question wording or the order of questions, and non-response bias (low response rates), but these types of error are not precisely quantifiable. We do not apply post-stratification sample weights for the slight demographic imbalance in gender because weighting the data would not have noticeable effects on the results.

Leave a Reply