Coronavirus and the 2020 Election, ACA

Key Findings

  • Less than four months before the 2020 presidential election, the latest KFF Health Tracking Poll finds President Trump receiving his lowest ratings ever from voters on his handling of the coronavirus outbreak. President Trump still garners majority support from Republican voters on all key issues.
  • With the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. now exceeding 4 million people, nearly twice as many voters give President Trump negative marks on his handling of this issue as give him positive marks (61% v. 35%).
  • The July poll also explores how two key groups of voters for the 2020 election (swing voters and Electoral College battleground voters) view the job President Trump is doing. About half of these voters approve of President Trump’s handling of the U.S. economy, but similar to overall voters, they disapprove of his handling of other issues.
  • President Trump also receives low marks on his handling of health care and the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 health care law which the Trump administration is currently challenging in court. About one-third of voters say they approve of the president’s handling of health care generally (35%) and the Affordable Care Act specifically (33%). Partisans have very different views on President Trump’s handling on both of these issues with most Democrats disapproving while majorities of Republicans approving.
  • The public’s views of the Affordable Care Act have largely remained unchanged over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, with half of the public continuing to view the law favorably. There are strong partisan differences in how the public views both the ACA and the pending Supreme Court case challenging the legality of the 2010 law, with Republicans overwhelmingly wanting to see the law overturned while most Democrats want to see the ACA remain in place and largely disapprove of recent Trump administration actions challenging the law.

The 2020 Election

Four months out from 2020 election, voters give President Trump negative ratings on his overall job approval as well as his handling of key issues that will likely decide the election President Trump also now garners his lowest net approval on the handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. since KFF began polling on the topic. One-third (35%) of voters approve of his handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. while six in ten (61%) voters disapprove (net approval of -26 percentage points). President Trump also receives negative ratings on his handling of health care more broadly (net approval of -21 percentage points) as well as his handling of the Affordable Care Act (net approval of -21 percentage points). While President Trump had previously received positive marks on his handling of the economy, voters are now split with 47% approving of his handling of the nation’s economy, and 50% disapproving (resulting in a negative net approval—approval minus disapproval—of -3 percentage points). Overall, four in ten voters (41%) approve of how President Trump is handling his job as president while a majority disapprove (56%).

Figure 1: President Trump Receives Negative Net Approval On All Issues

Voters’ attitudes on President Trump’s handling of both the economy and the coronavirus outbreak have dropped sharply since May 2020. The latest KFF Health Tracking Poll finds President Trump’s overall net approval on these two key issues has dropped nearly 20 percentage points over the course of the summer (economy: 19 percentage point drop in net approval; coronavirus: 18 percentage point drop in net approval).

Figure 2: President Trump’s Job Approval Drops Across Key 2020 Issues

Voters’ opinions of President Trump’s handling of the issues probed in the poll are largely partisan, with Republicans giving him much higher marks across all of the issues asked about. Majorities of Republican voters approve of President Trump’s handling of his job as president (84%), the economy (87%), health care (78%) and the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. (74%), yet his net approval on each of these issues is down by double digits among Republicans since May.

Table 1: Across Issues, Trump Net Approval Has Dropped From May to July 2020 Among Partisans
Do you approve or disapprove of the way President Trump is handling… Democratic voters Independent voters Republican voters
May 2020 July 2020 May 2020 July 2020 May 2020 July 2020
…his job as president Approve 9% 5% 45% 43% 90% 84%
Disapprove 90 93 54 55 9 15
Net Approval -81 -88 -9 -12 81 69
Difference in net Approval 7 percentage point drop 3 percentage point drop 12 percentage point drop
…the economy Approve 23 14 57 47 93 87
Disapprove 74 84 41 49 6 10
Net Approval -51 -70 16 -2 87 77
Difference in net Approval 19 percentage point drop 18 percentage point drop 10 percentage point drop
…health care Approve 9 7 41 33 88 78
Disapprove 89 89 53 58 9 16
Net Approval -80 -82 -12 -25 79 62
Difference in net Approval 2 percentage point drop 13 percentage point drop 17 percentage point drop
…the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. Approve 12 5 44 36 88 74
Disapprove 88 92 54 61 11 23
Net Approval -76 -87 -10 -25 77 51
Difference in net Approval 11 percentage point drop 15 percentage point drop 26 percentage point drop

2020 Voters to Watch: Swing Voters

Swing voters, a crucial group of voters who have not yet decided which candidate they will vote for in November, are also negative in their assessments of President Trump’s presidency and his handling of most national issues – but remain positive in their assessment of his handling of the economy. Swing voters (who comprise 29% of all voters) largely disapprove (57%) of the way President Trump is handling his job overall and are also negative in Trump’s handling of both the coronavirus outbreak (66% disapprove) and health care (58% disapprove).

Defining Swing Voters

When asked about their intentions for the upcoming election, voters say they are either “definitely going to vote for President Trump” (30%), or “definitely going to vote for Joe Biden” (36%), while about three in ten voters either say they are undecided in their 2020 vote choice (8%), don’t know yet who they will vote for (2%), or are probably going to vote for President Trump (8%) or Democratic nominee Joe Biden (11%) but have not made up their minds yet.

Swing voters are more positive in views of how President Trump is handling the economy, but at a smaller margin than their assessments in May, with a net approval of +5 percentage points compared to +19 percentage point net approval in May. Swing voters’ assessments of Trump’s handling of health care and the coronavirus outbreak have also become more negative, with the assessments of the president’s handling of health care down 8 net percentage points, and the current coronavirus outbreak down 14 net percentage points.

Figure 3: Among Swing Voters, President Trump’s Job Approval Drops Across Key 2020 Issues

2020 Voters to Watch: Electoral College Battleground Voters

Another important group of voters to watch in 2020 are voters living in states where the election outcome is less predictable. The attitudes of these Electoral College battleground voters will be important in the upcoming election, as their states and districts are likely to swing the Electoral College towards President Trump or Joe Biden.1 This group of voters, representing 38% of all voters, are evenly split in their party preferences, with three in ten saying they are Democrats, Republicans and Independents (31%, 30% and 31% respectively).

Figure 4: Battleground Voters Rate President Trump Negatively On Most Issues, Other Than The Economy

President Trump fares slightly better with these battleground voters on all key issues. Half of these voters approve of President Trump’s handling of the economy and 45% say they approve of his handling of his job as president. But similar to the views of all voters and swing voters, President Trump fares slightly worse on his handling of health care and the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.. Partisan voters in these battleground states and districts fall largely along the same party lines in their evaluations of President Trump, as partisan voters overall.

The Affordable Care Act

The public’s attitudes towards the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) have remained relatively unchanged over the past 5 months, with half (51%) now saying they hold a favorable opinion of the law, while 36% hold an unfavorable view.

Figure 5: Half Of The Public Hold Favorable Views Of The ACA

Partisans continue to hold different views of the ACA, with about eight in ten Democrats (79%) holding favorable views while seven in ten Republicans (72%) view the law unfavorably. Half of independents hold favorable views (51%) while a smaller share (35%) say they view the law unfavorably.

On June 25th, 2020, the Trump administration issued a brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act. The brief was filed in support of an ongoing challenge to the ACA by a group of Republican attorneys general in California v. Texas, a case that challenges the legality of the ACA in light of the zeroing out of the individual mandate penalty in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Acts. While there is a possibility that the case may be heard in the days leading up to the 2020 election, no opinion is expected to be issued until 2021.

Republicans largely approve (77%) of the Trump administration’s actions, while the vast majority of Democrats (91%) as well as more than half of independents (55%) disapprove of the Trump administration asking the Supreme Court to overturn the ACA.

Figure 6: Democrats, Independents Disapprove While Republicans Approve Of Administration Asking Supreme Court To Overturn The ACA

If the Supreme Court sides with the Trump administration and the coalition of Republican attorneys general, all or parts of the 2010 Affordable Care Act would no longer be the law of the land. About half (53%) of the public do not want to see the ACA overturned by the Supreme Court while four in ten (38%) say they want to see the law overturned. Once again, attitudes are largely partisan with eight in ten Democrats (82%) and half of independents (51%) not wanting the law overturned, while seven in ten Republicans say the Supreme Court should overturn the 2010 health care law. Previous KFF polling has found that majorities across partisans want many of the ACA’s protections to remain in place.

Figure 7: Partisans Divided On Whether They Want The Supreme Court To Overturn The Affordable Care

Coronavirus Methodology

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270

www.kff.org | Email Alerts: kff.org/email | facebook.com/KaiserFamilyFoundation | twitter.com/kff

Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.