What Ted Cruz Gets Wrong About Obamacare

Contra his pronouncements, Americans oppose defunding the president's health care law if it means government shutdown.

U.S. Senate Candidate Ted Cruz speaks during the Texas Republican Convention in Fort Worth, Texas,  Saturday, June 9, 2012.  Cruz and David Dewhurst are locked in a fierce fight for the Republican nomination to fill Texas' open U.S. Senate seat.  (National Journal)

Sen. Ted Cruz's mantra for some time now has been the GOP needs to listen to the American people and defund the president's signature health care law. And he's correct that three years after its passage, most every poll shows that Obamacare remains unpopular with the American electorate. But Cruz has failed to grasp an important nuance — namely, that Americans are even less excited about the idea of bringing the government to a halt to block the law.

Americans oppose defunding Obamacare by a plurality of 44 percent to 38 percent, according to a new CNBC poll of 800 people around the country.

Yet as recently as Sunday, Cruz was making the popularity case on national airwaves. "Americans trust Republicans more than Democrats on health care," he told Chris Wallace on Fox News this weekend. "The whole reason why," he added, "is because we've been standing up, leading the fight to defund Obamacare."

There are variations in survey results. A poll conducted by Rasmussen earlier this month indicated that 51 percent favor government shutdown until Congress cuts health care funding. But as shutdown looms, that result is sounding increasingly off.

The CNBC poll found that opposition to defunding Obamacare increases sharply when the issue of shutting down the government is included. And a poll conducted by David Winston, the House GOP leadership's pollster, found a full 71 percent of respondents oppose "shutting down the government as a way to defund the president's health care law." The approval numbers? Twenty-three percent.

What's more, Winston told The Washington Post, in his survey, even the Republicans say shutdown is a bad idea, 53 percent to 37 percent.

Can't let facts get in the way of a good talking point.