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American Association for Public Opinion Research

Partisanship, Polling, and the Affordable Care Act

CHICAGO, IL, August 12, 2019 – A recent Poll Review article published in Public Opinion Quarterly, discusses how the 2010 Affordable Care Act fits the model of a complex public policy about which elite opinion is divided on a partisan basis, where the public has low levels of information and has relied largely on partisan heuristics when asked their opinion. This poll review was conducted by Mollyann Brodie,  Elizabeth C Hamel,  Ashley Kirzinger,  and Bianca Dijulio at KFF and draws on more than 80 KFF Health Tracking polls along with polls conducted by other organizations.

In an age of increasing political polarization, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) stands out as one of the most politically divisive pieces of legislation in recent history. Unlike previous laws making changes to the US healthcare system, public views of the ACA did not improve measurably as people gained experience with the program, but remained deeply divided on a partisan basis in the more than eight years since its passage. This poll review article examines how the complexity of the law, lack of understanding by the public, and elite partisan messaging have contributed to this enduring partisan divide, and discusses what the future may hold for the measurement of public opinion on major healthcare legislation.
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The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) is the leading professional organization of public opinion and survey research professionals in the U.S., with members from academia, media, government, the non-profit sector and private industry. AAPOR members embrace the principle that public opinion research is essential to a healthy democracy, providing information crucial to informed policymaking and giving voice to the nation's beliefs, attitudes and desires. It promotes a better public understanding of this role, as well as the sound and ethical conduct and use of public opinion research.

Published since 1937, Public Opinion Quarterly is among the most frequently cited journals of its kind. Such interdisciplinary leadership benefits academicians and all social science researchers by providing a trusted source for a wide range of high quality research. POQ selectively publishes important theoretical contributions to opinion and communication research, analyses of current public opinion, and investigations of methodological issues involved in survey validity—including questionnaire construction, interviewing and interviewers, sampling strategy, and mode of administration. The theoretical and methodological advances detailed in the pages of POQ ensure its importance as a research resource.