There’s a new Gallup survey out on the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 that helps illustrate why the exact numbers on issues that divide partisans are a bit irrelevant. Here’s Gallup’s Jeffrey M. Jones:

Americans divide evenly when asked if they favor (47%) or oppose (44%) a Republican president’s repealing the 2010 healthcare law if elected this November. Republicans overwhelmingly favor repeal (87%) and Democrats overwhelmingly oppose it (77%). However, Republicans hold their views much more intensely than Democrats, with 56% of Republicans strongly favoring repeal and 39% of Democrats strongly opposing it.

Since every single Republican in Congress voted against the legislation, and the GOP presidential candidates have differed only in terms of the vehemence with which they denounce it as a socialist threat to fundamental American freedoms (and/or as quasi-genocidal), it’s a bit beside the point to figure out exactly what percentage of GOP voters favor repeal. It’s not as though there is some “sensible center” among Republican office-holders that “the base” must discipline in order to keep them from tolerating this approach to health reform once supported by quite a lot of GOP leaders and thinkers.

It is germane that self-identified independents oppose repeal by a 47-40 margin. And in the event Republicans do win the White House and/or control of both Houses of Congress, it may well become important to determine whether voters really do support a return to the status quo ante, including the right of insurers to deny coverage to people on grounds of pre-existing conditions (not a popular position among any category of voters in the past). But like a lot of other measurements of “intensity,” the exact percentage of Republican voters favoring their party’s monolithic position on “ObamaCare” isn’t quite the big deal it is often made out to be, unless the question is whether the statute will be publicly burned after it is repealed.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.