Worth Discussing

Proof That Obamacare Sunk the Democrats - Even Though It Saved Their Souls

William Galston | The New Republic | November 11, 2010
Assets


Most Democrats agree (I know I do) that the effort to make adequate and affordable health care accessible to all Americans was morally correct; they believe that the health reform bill enacted last spring was a major legislative accomplishment attained against huge obstacles; and they hope that the health care bill enacted last spring eventually will make coverage all but universal while reducing costs below what would otherwise have been their trendline. There is debate, however, about the near-term political impact of the health-reform effort—and two surveys released this week have brought the consequences into greater focus.

The bipartisan Democracy Corps/Resurgent Republic survey found, as have others, a large drop-off in support for Democratic candidates among Independents—13 points since 2008, and a startling 19 points since the previous midterm election in 2006. The survey also found some clues as to why this happened. By a margin of 60 to 34, Independents endorsed the proposition that “government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals,” and rejected the claim that “government should do more to solve problems and help meet the needs of people.” When asked whether they favored or opposed the president’s health care plan, 51 percent of Independents registered their opposition while 39 percent indicated support. The difference in intensity between these two groups of Independents was startling: 43 percent were strongly opposed to the plan, versus only 18 percent who strongly favored it. (In the electorate as a whole, strong opponents constituted 44 percent of the total, strong proponents only 24 percent.) Looking forward, 53 percent of Independents favor repealing and replacing the law (and 43 percent strongly).


Most Democrats agree (I know I do) that the effort to make adequate and affordable health care accessible to all Americans was morally correct; they believe that the health reform bill enacted last spring was a major legislative accomplishment attained against huge obstacles; and they hope that the health care bill enacted last spring eventually will make coverage all but universal while reducing costs below what would otherwise have been their trendline. There is debate, however, about the near-term political impact of the health-reform effort—and two surveys released this week have brought the consequences into greater focus.


The bipartisan Democracy Corps/Resurgent Republic survey found, as have others, a large drop-off in support for Democratic candidates among Independents—13 points since 2008, and a startling 19 points since the previous midterm election in 2006. The survey also found some clues as to why this happened. By a margin of 60 to 34, Independents endorsed the proposition that “government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals,” and rejected the claim that “government should do more to solve problems and help meet the needs of people.” When asked whether they favored or opposed the president’s health care plan, 51 percent of Independents registered their opposition while 39 percent indicated support. The difference in intensity between these two groups of Independents was startling: 43 percent were strongly opposed to the plan, versus only 18 percent who strongly favored it. (In the electorate as a whole, strong opponents constituted 44 percent of the total, strong proponents only 24 percent.) Looking forward, 53 percent of Independents favor repealing and replacing the law (and 43 percent strongly).


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Filed under: Independent Voters, Health Care, News, and 2010 Elections