Health and Science

Obamacare doesn't fire up many voters: poll

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

They might want to change the name to Obama-who-cares.

Obamacare now ranks very low among issues that are driving the most enthusiastic registered voters in upcoming mid-term elections that could alter the balance of power in the U.S. Congress, a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds.

The finding suggests that last fall's predictions that President Barack Obama's signature health-care reform law would by itself be the kiss of death of the Democratic majority in the Senate were possibly overblown.

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But campaigns in the most competitive Senate races nonetheless are hammering away at the issue with ads focused on Obamacare, hoping to use continued debate over the law to tip the balance in that upper chamber of Congress.

Just 3 percent of voters who self-identified as being more enthusiastic about voting this year answered "health-care law/Affordable Care Act/Obamacare" when asked their main reason for being so eager to go the polls this November, the Kaiser Family Foundation report said.

In fact, that reason was listed 11th out of 11 reasons for why people were excited to vote, finishing even behind "Issues (general)."

The biggest reason, Kaiser's monthly tracking poll found, was "elect more Republicans/GOP control of Senate," which was the answer 13 percent of more enthusiastic voters gave.

However, nearly 4 in 10 voters told pollsters that if a candidate had voted for the Affordable Care Act they would be less likely to pull the level for them in the voting booth.

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Just 3 in 10 voters said they'd be more likely to elect a candidate if that person had voted for the ACA.

And, opinion of Obamacare among likely voters is 51 percent negative, compared with just 35 percent positive, Kaiser found.

Kaiser also found that about half of the voters nationally had said that they had seen a campaign or issue advertisement that mentioned Obamacare in the past month, with 20 percent saying that most of the ads were negative about the law, and just 7 percent saying most of the ads they saw backed the law.

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And such ads focused on Obamacare were significantly more prevalent, and more apt to be negative about the law in the 11 states ranked as the most competitive for Senate races by the The Cook Political Report.

A total of 72 percent of voters in those 11 states said they had seen ads related to Obamacare. Of those people, 34 percent said they saw more ads opposing the law. Only 4 percent saw more ads supporting Obamacare.

While Obamacare as an issue itself ranks low as a motivator among particularly enthusiastic voters, health care as an issue generally ranks highly among all registered voters when asked what was important in determining how they will vote for candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives, Kaiser found.

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Health care was listed as one of the two most important issues by 13 percent of all registered voters polled, finishing in second place behind "economy/jobs," which was listed as a top one or two issue by 21 percent of voters.

"When Republicans mention health care as a top voting issue, they are more likely to mention the ACA or Obamacare by name"—7 percent for Republicans compared with just 2 percent of Democrats—Kaiser's report on the poll noted.

In another finding, Kaiser said that overall public opinion about Obamacare remained negative, with 47 percent of respondents having an unfavorable view of the law, compared with 35 percent who view the law favorably. That represents a decrease in people holding negative views of the law since July, when 53 percent of respondents told Kaiser they opposed Obamacare.

The full poll results can be read here.

By CNBC's Dan Mangan.