WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the Affordable Care Act's second open enrollment period begins, 37% of Americans say they approve of the law, one percentage point below the previous low in January. Fifty-six percent disapprove, the high in disapproval by one point.
Americans were slightly more positive than negative about the law around the time of the 2012 election, but they have consistently been more likely to disapprove than approve of the law in all surveys that have been conducted since then. Approval has been in the low 40% or high 30% range after a noticeable dip that occurred in early November 2013. This was shortly after millions of Americans received notices that their current policies were being canceled, which was at odds with President Barack Obama's pledge that those who liked their plans could keep them. The president later said, by way of clarification, that Americans could keep their plans if those plans didn't change after the ACA was passed.
The current 37% reading comes on the heels of last week's midterm elections, in which Republicans won full control of both houses of Congress. Already, party leaders are discussing efforts to repeal the unpopular law.
Repeal is highly unlikely, given Obama's veto power, but the law's new low in approval -- and new high in disapproval (56%) -- could potentially have an impact on its future. The president himself has acknowledged he will consider modifications to the law, which could include repealing the tax on medical devices.
Approval Among Independents at 33%
Approval of the law continues to diverge sharply by party, with 74% of Democrats and 8% of Republicans approving of it. Independents have never been particularly positive toward the law, with approval ranging between 31% and 41%. Currently, 33% of independents approve.
Nonwhites, who disproportionately identify as Democrats, have maintained majority approval since the ACA's inception, now at 56%. Though this is still about double the level of approval among whites (29%), it is the first time nonwhites have fallen below the 60% mark.
Americans have never been overly positive toward the ACA, at best showing a roughly equal division between approval and disapproval early on in the law's implementation. The percentage of Americans who approve of the law represents a new numerical low, which could indicate a loss of faith in the law amid the aftermath of the 2014 midterms. Although the ACA, also called Obamacare, was not as dominant an issue in this year's congressional elections as it was in 2010, the issue was part of Republicans' campaign efforts to oppose the president's agenda overall. In doing that, many of the party's candidates were successful.
Though the law's implementation suffered setbacks last fall, government officials have greater optimism for the health insurance website's usability this time around. Importantly, though, approval of the law has remained low throughout the year even as it has had obvious success in reducing the uninsured rate. And with approval holding in a fairly narrow range since last fall, it may be that Americans have fairly well made up their minds about the law, and even a highly successful second open enrollment period may not do much to boost their approval.
In a personal message delivered shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon, Laurie Sanborn, R-Bedford, announced that she is withdrawing from the race for New Hampshire House Speaker.
She sited a need to devote time to her husband State Senator Andy Sanborn who was recently hospitalized.
In her email, Rep. Sanborn did not say if she would endorse either of the former Speakers, Gene Chandler or Bill O'Brien, in the race. Republican Reps will meet next Tuesday to decide their choice for Speaker. The House is expected to elect whichever Republican survives next Tuesday's vote; that vote will be the first Wednesday in December.
Rep. Sanborn had been picking up support and was expected (at least by me) to draw enough votes to prevent either Chandler or O'Brien from claiming a first ballot victory.
At this early time, it is unknown whether any other Republican will step in to replace Sanborn as the "third" candidate in the field.
Democrats yesterday chose Steve Shurtleff, D-Concord, as what is expected to be minority leader.
In a recount today, Republican McConnell from Cheshire County (Swanzey and Richmond) appears to have defeated Democrat Faulkner by three votes.
The recount for the fourth and final Hampton seat should be concluded within a half hour.
Republicans most likely will control the New Hampshire House by about a 240-160 margin, meaning that most committees will be aligned 12-8 Republicans; and the Finance Committee would be 16-10 Republicans.
Although the Speaker has always been an elected House member, we often hear that the House could in fact elect a non-member to the job.
No, no, I'm not throwing my hat into the ring.
There's good news and bad news for Democrats today.
The bad news is that, according to a new Gallup poll, the party has sunk to its lowest favorability level ever. From 43-28 lead over Republicans prior to the election, Democrats have fallen to a 42-36 deficit. That's a dramatic 21 point swing (up 14 for Republicans, down 7 for Democrats) , almost too much to believe.
The good news, of course, is that (except for the Louisiana Senate runoff, already written off as a loss by most Democrats--they've pulled funding from Mary Landrieu), the next elections are almost two years away.
A lot can change in that amount of time.
Here's the Gallup graph. Note that the numbers need not add up to 100 percent since this is a favorability ranking of each party, not necessarily a comparison. Also note that the high water mark for Democrats, at 61 percent, was back in 2000 Republicans reached their high water mark,also at 61 percent, back in 2002. Generally speaking, it's been downhill for both parties ever since. We could almost draw a downward line like one would with a stock chart!
For those who may have been following the story of how Texas Governor Rick Perry brought expanded gambling to the loan start state this past summer by bypassing the legislature, here's a bulletin just in. A Texas judge has blocked the introduction of so-called "historical slots" into the Lone Star State, noting that the Texas Racing Authority exceeded its authority. There was never any doubt in my mind; only the legislature, in both New Hampshire and Texas apparently, is empowered to approve expanded gambling.
I got involved in this story in late August when a Texas reporter asked me if I though such usurpation of power by Governor Perry would go over well in New Hampshire. Of course I said no. The reporter than found a source for the same story to claim it wouldn't matter a whit. You'd be wrong if you think the contrary source was another elected official or even a judge. It was none other than the since disgraced WMUR reporter James Pindell who just can't seem to miss a chance to make himself part of any story, even one making the rounds from Texas to New Hampshire.
Where is Pindell these days, anyway?
The fact that Governor Perry tried to ram this scheme home without legislative approval should, I continue to believe, make voters in the first in the nation primary state think twice about his authoritarian leanings. Obviously, he won't have my vote...yours neither I hope.
Here's today's story from the Houston Chronicle.
By Brian M. Rosenthal, Houston Chronicle
November 10, 2014
AUSTIN — A Travis County judge ruled Monday that the Texas Racing Commission exceeded its authority when it allowed horse and dog racing tracks to install “historical racing” terminals that resemble slot machines.
Judge Laura Livingston sided with a coalition of charitable bingo groups who sued the commission because they felt the terminals would cut into their business.
“Had these slot machines been allowed to be implemented, bingo would have been devastated,” said Steve Bresnen, a spokesman for the coalition. “We appreciate the judge’s decision.”
Andrea Young, CEO of the Sam Houston Race Park, disagreed.
“Today’s decision is a blow to the Texas Horse industry and thousands of hardworking horse men and women,” Young said in a statement. “We obviously disagree with the judge’s decision and are considering our options.”
The historical racing game, also known as “instant racing,” allows players at horse and dog tracks to bet on previously run races that have been stripped of all identifying markings. Supporters view it as a new type of betting that could improve revenues at struggling racing tracks. Opponents complain it looks like a slot machine and is essentially the same thing.
Charitable bingo is a business that brings in hundreds of millions of dollars per year in Texas, but it is under fire from lawmakers who long have complained that only a tiny percentage of profits actually go to charity.