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A New Obstacle to GOP Efforts to Repeal Obamacare

President Obama signing the Affordable Health Care for America Act in March 2010

Photograph by Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Obama signing the Affordable Health Care for America Act in March 2010

Over the last two years, Republicans in Congress have voted dozens of times to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. “Obamacare.” A furious debate over whether to keep up the probably fruitless push for outright repeal or instead attack the law at the margins has sundered the GOP and set back the efforts by such Republican leaders as Eric Cantor to put a friendlier face on an unpopular party.

A new poll out this morning from the Kaiser Family Foundation reveals an obstacle to repeal that Republicans may not have been counting on: One in five Americans believes that Obamacare has already been repealed. These misinformed millions divide into two camps: the 12 percent who wrongly believe that Congress has already undone the law and the 7 percent who wrongly believe that the Supreme Court struck it down (they must be CNN and Fox News watchers).

Needless to say, it will be rather more difficult to foment anger and rally voters to repeal a law that many of them believe has already been struck from the books. Public awareness that Obamacare has not, in fact, been repealed may increase next year, when the law goes into effect. But this could present its own obstacle to repeal: People might decide they like it.

Green is senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek in Washington. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaGreen.

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