Still More American Public Opinion.

What do Americans think of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? The polls have been blurry. In March 2014, 41 percent of people approved of the ACA, while 53 percent of people disapproved. There was a big partisan break-down: 72 percent of Democrats approved it, while only 8 percent of Republicans approved it. Those figures raise their own puzzles. Why are 28 percent of Democrats opposed to the law or unsure if they approve it? If 72 percent of Democrats and 8 percent of Republicans approve the law, where do Independents stand? In another poll in May 2014, 61 percent that they either wanted Congress to leave the ACA in place or—at most—tinker with any flaws. In contrast, 38 percent of people wanted the law repealed.[1] Approval of the ACA appears to have shot up from 41 percent to 61 percent, opposition to have fallen from 53 to 38 percent. Did this mark a sea-change in attitudes toward the ACA or a polling error?

What do Americans think about race relations? In 2009, after the election of Barack Obama to be President of the United States, 66 percent of people thought that race relations were good. Then came the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. In August 2014, 80 percent of African-Americans thought that the shooting “raises important questions about race that need to be discussed.” Only 37 percent of whites agreed. Almost half of whites—47 percent—thought that race was “getting more attention than it deserves.” In December 2014, 85 percent of African-Americans disapproved of the decision by the grand jury to not indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Michael Brown. Overall, 45 percent of Americans disapproved of the decision, while 48 percent approved it. By January 2015, 40 percent of people believed that race relations were “fairly good” or “very good.”[2] There is a rough similarity between the figures for those who had believed that race was getting too much attention, for those who approved the decision not to indict, and for those who believe that race relations are good.

What do Americans think about opportunity in America? In November 2014, 24 percent of people believed that the economy is “fair to most Americans,” while 71 percent think that it “generally favors the rich.” A majority—57 percent–of those who earn more than $100,000 a year agree. However, 43 percent of those who did not vote in November 2014 were African-American or Hispanic-Americans, and 46 percent earned less than $30,000 a year.[3]

What do people think about getting anything accomplished in government? In January 2015, 60 percent of Americans believed that the Congress elected in November 2014 will not accomplish any more than the previous bums. Even more, 72 percent, doubted that the Republican majority in the Senate would accomplish anything more than did the Democratic majority. Some people seem frustrated with this situation, while others are satisfied. Thus, 46 percent of people believed that President Obama should wait on action by Congress to solve the immigration issue. According to the first poll, however, most people expect that such action will not come. In contrast, 42 percent of people favored the president issuing an executive order to deal with immigration. Finally, 59 percent of people favored building the Keystone XL pipeline. This included not only 83 percent of Republicans, but also 43 percent of Democrats.[4] The president vetoed that bill.

[1] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 4 April 2015, p. 15; “Poll Watch,” The Week, 23 May 2014, p. 15.

[2] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 29 August 2014, p. 17; “Poll Watch,” The Week, 12 December 2014, p. 19; “Poll Watch,” The Week, 16 January 2015, p. 17.

[3] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 14 November 2014, p. 19.

[4] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 23 January 2015, p. 17; “Poll Watch,” The Week, 28 November 2014, p. 15.

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