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On Brink of Repeal, Obamacare Has Never Been More Popular

Health care advocates demonstrating near Trump Tower in New York, January 13, 2017.
Erik McGregor | Pacific Press/LightRocket | Getty Images
Health care advocates demonstrating near Trump Tower in New York, January 13, 2017.

As Republicans get closer to repealing it, President Barack Obama's federal health-care law – or Obamacare – has never been more popular, according to results from a new national NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey.

And half of Americans – 50 percent – say they have little to no confidence that Republican proposals to replace the law will make things better.

The poll finds 45 percent of respondents believing that the health-care law is a good idea, which is the highest percentage here since the NBC/WSJ poll began asking the question in April 2009.

By contrast, 41 percent of Americans say the health-care law is a bad idea. It's the first time in the poll since the law's passage in 2010 where more think it is a good idea than a bad idea.

Attitudes about Obamacare continue to break along partisan lines – 80 percent of Democrats say the law is a good idea, versus just 13 percent of Republicans. (Among independents, 36 percent say it's a good idea, while 41 percent say it's a bad one.)

Last week, congressional Republicans in the House and Senate passed legislation that begins the process of repealing the law. No Democrats voted to join them.

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Yet according to the poll, a combined 50 percent of Americans say the law is working well (6 percent) or needs minor modifications to improve it (44 percent).

That's compared with a combined 49 percent who believe it needs a major overhaul (33 percent) or should be totally eliminated (16 percent).

And just 26 percent of Americans have either a "great deal" or "quite a bit of confidence" that congressional Republicans will replace the law with something better, while a combined 50 percent say they have either "very little" or no confidence with the GOP here.

The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Jan. 12-15 of 1,000 adults – including nearly 500 reached via cell phone – and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points. More from the poll will be released at 5 p.m. ET.

President-elect Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to criticize national polls that have found his approval rating to be near 40 percent as "rigged" and "phony," saying: "The same people who did the phony election polls, and were so wrong, are now doing approval rating polls."

Yet while the national polls weren't that far off – Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 2 points in the popular vote, 48 percent to 46 percent – this NBC/WSJ poll and other postelection surveys don't depend on pollsters' assumptions about which voters will come to the polls. Instead, they are measuring current public opinion among all Americans, not just voters or likely voters.