By Jordan Rau, Senior Correspondent, Kaiser Health News
After two years of noise and stridency on the 2010 health care law, the Affordable Care Act ended up being a wash in the presidential election, a new poll finds.
Both President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney ended up getting equal support among voters who said the law was a "major factor" in their vote for president, according to the poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted shortly after last Tuesday's election. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)
This shouldn't come as a surprise, since the public remained consistently split about the law throughout the election season. Even after Obama was declared the winner, the public's view about the law remains about evenly divided: 43 percent favor it and 39 percent oppose it. "Not even a presidential election can disturb the relatively stable opinion trend on the Affordable Care Act," the pollsters wrote.
The number of people looking to repeal the law dropped to a new low of 33 percent, with an increasing number of people saying they weren't sure what they wanted to see happen with the law, or refusing to answer the question. Forty-nine percent said they wanted to keep the law or expand it.
Seven of 10 voters listed the law as a significant influence on their vote, but only 5 percent said it was the biggest factor. Many more voters cited either the economy, the overall direction of the country or Obama's performance during his term as the prime determinant in their vote, the poll found. The survey, the pollsters wrote, "suggests it was a trailing issue rather than a leading one."
Health care in general was a more important factor to voters than the health law in particular, the poll found. Voters who listed health issues as one of the two top factors in their decisions tended to support Obama, 55 percent to 41 percent. Romney won the elderly vote, although seniors were optimistic about how Obama will handle Medicare.
The poll was conducted from Nov. 7 through Nov. 10 among 1,223 people. It has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.