Not a Significant Vote Factor’ : Obamacare’s Influence Down in 2014 Midterms

On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner had this to say about the public’s views of the president’s signature health care law: “The American people have made it clear: they're not for Obamacare. Ask all those Democrats who lost their elections Tuesday night.”

He’s right that plenty of Democrats who voted for the Affordable Care Act did lose their jobs on Tuesday. But post-election data shows that the law wasn’t nearly as influential a campaign issue as it was in the 2010 midterm election.

In an Election Night poll, Public Opinion Strategies found that most voters – 59 percent – said that their midterm vote was not intended to send a message about the health care law at all. Twenty-eight percent said that they wanted their vote to convey opposition to Obamacare, while 12 percent said their ballot expressed support for it.

Compare those numbers to 2010, the year that the massive overhaul was signed into law.

That year, a plurality – 45 percent – said that their vote was a message of opposition to Obamacare. Twenty-eight percent said it was a message of support. And just 27 percent said they weren't sending any message about the law at all from the ballot box.

The health care law was certainly a motivator for Republicans this cycle. A majority – 55 percent – said that their 2014 midterm vote was meant to mean a thumbs down for the bill. But among Democrats AND independents, seven-in-ten said their vote wasn’t about Obamacare.

Another difference from 2010: How much voters heard about the Affordable Care Act on the airwaves.

Pollsters asked if voters remembered recently hearing, reading or seeing ads from congressional candidates that addressed the law. In 2010, 69 percent said that they did, but this cycle, just a third – 32 percent – recalled campaign commercials about it.