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There Isn’t a Secret Majority Supporting Obamacare

Polls show an average of about 52 percent of Americans oppose the Affordable Care Act. But many who oppose the law wish it were more liberal — at least that’s the argument you hear from some analysts. CNN, for example, has consistently found that between 10 and 15 percent of people who oppose the 2010 health care law do so because it “isn’t liberal enough.” Combine that slice of the electorate with the 40 percent who usually support the law, and you get a majority.

But there are some problems with this argument. As I have previously pointed out, there’s a large number of Republicans in the “not liberal enough” group. And more recently, HuffPollster’s Mark Blumenthal and YouGov discovered that at least half of the “not liberal enough” group wanted less government intervention in health care, not more. It seems “liberal” means different things to different people.

Another less frequently asked survey question appears to point in a similar direction. In the past six months, Democracy Corps-Resurgent Republic and the ABC News/Washington Post poll asked whether those opposed to the law were opposed because it went “too far” or “not far enough” in changing health care. The “not far enough” group has been read as opposition from the political left.

But in the Democracy Corps survey, 13 percent of Republicans said Obamacare didn’t go far enough in changing health care. Only 4 percent of Democrats said the same. The ABC News survey was more evenly split, but there was still no major Democratic opposition. Nine percent of Republicans and 8 percent of Democrats said the law didn’t go far enough, according to ABC News.

There are certainly people who are against Obamacare because they wanted more government intervention, such as Medicare for all. But it appears that most polls overstate the size of this group.

Harry Enten was a senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight.