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Column

Why voters are finished believing Obamacare promises

In April, the Real Clear Politics average of polls showed that 47 percent of Americans opposed Obamacare, while 41 percent supported it – a 6-percentage-point edge for opponents of the president’s health care law, which at the time was still months away from implementation.

The latest average of polls, less than two months into the law’s rollout, shows 57 percent opposing Obamacare, with 38 percent supporting – an enormous 19-point gap between opponents and supporters.

The two numbers explain why Republicans made little progress when they tried to warn Americans about Obamacare.

For years, GOP warnings about Obamacare were about something that had not yet arrived. People had not experienced it, did not have friends who experienced it and didn’t fully understand what it was. Many tuned out the Republican alarms.

That has changed. Millions of Americans are unhappy with what they have experienced under Obamacare – canceled policies, higher premiums and sky-high deductibles. They are also much more likely to believe predictions of future problems.

They’ve seen what has happened and know it can get worse.

So how can it get worse? So far, Obamacare has upended the individual market for health insurance, which covers about 10 million people. The next step, according to the respected health care analyst Robert Laszewski, will likely come in the small-employer market, meaning businesses with anywhere between two and 50 employees. That covers about 45 million people.

When the individual market began to roil, Obamacare’s defenders were quick to point out that it was a relatively small part – about 5 percent – of the total U.S. insurance market. The assurance was that everyone else would either be unaffected by Obamacare or benefit from the new law.

In the three and a half years between March 23, 2010, the day Obamacare was signed into law, and Oct. 1, 2013, the day its implementation got underway, millions of voters, no matter what doubts they might have had, thought it best to give Obamacare a chance to work. That’s why they didn’t respond to the GOP’s dire warnings. But now, they’ve seen what Obamacare can mean in their lives. And they won’t be buying any more promises.

• Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.

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