Politics & Government

President Obama’s biggest success and biggest failure are the same thing, poll finds

The Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement, is seen as the biggest success and the biggest failure of his eight years in office, according to a new Suffolk University/USA Today poll.

The poll, released Wednesday, surveyed 1,000 Americans.

Asked to chose Obama’s biggest success from a list of seven areas, 23.5 percent of respondents chose healthcare/Affordable Care Act. The economic recovery from the Great Recession ranked second with 21.9 percent, while none ranked third at 20.7 percent.

Also included in the choices were Obama’s moral leadership (8.5 percent), climate change policy (5.5 percent), wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (4.6 percent), race relations (4.2 percent) and the battle against terrorism (3.2 percent).

Respondents were asked his biggest failure among the same options, and 26.7 percent chose healthcare/Affordable Care Act. Obama’s handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drew 15.3 percent and race relations garnered 14.7 percent.

Obama signed the Affordable Care Act — often referred to as Obamacare — into law in March 2010. It survived several legal challenges from Republicans, including two Supreme Court cases. More than 20 million Americans have obtained health insurance under some provision of the law, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

But it has been a frequent target of Republican lawmakers, and President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on repealing and replacing the law. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said repealing the Affordable Care Act will be “the first item up in the new year.”

The survey asked respondents how they think history will rate Obama’s presidency — and a slight majority (50.1 percent) selected great or good. Another 25 percent chose fair. Only 23 percent believe history will consider Obama’s presidency as a failed one.

Obama, despite his party and preferred successor losing the election, is popular among Americans with 54 percent of those polled approving of the job he has done.

Among other findings in the poll:

• Voters have a clear preference for what they want Trump and his administration to focus on when he takes office in January. More than 46 percent of respondents said his top priority should be creating and preserving jobs. Fighting terrorism and ISIS was No. 2 at 16.7 percent.

• Trump prepares to enter the White House with more people having an unfavorable opinion (45.6 percent) of him than a favorable opinion (40.5 percent).

• Trump’s opponent in the general election, Democrat Hillary Clinton, has higher unfavorable and favorable numbers than Trump. In the poll, 55.4 percent have an unfavorable opinion of her and 42.1 percent have a favorable opinion.

• Among Democrats and independents, 61 percent believe Clinton should not run for president in 2020. By comparison, 66.3 percent of those polled saying they would be excited by “someone entirely new” among Democrats challenging Trump in 2020.

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