The devil is deeply embedded in the details on this one.
At Kos, there’s a fairly lengthy analysis of the generally ambiguous polling on the ACA aka Obamacare.
A poll taken days before the high court’s ruling found that 43 percent of Americans said the court should not overturn the law, and 35 percent hoped it would.
The Public Religion Research Institute poll also found that one in five Americans (21 percent) had no opinion on what the court should do.
Americans are sharply divided over Thursday’s Supreme Court decision on the 2010 healthcare law, with 46% agreeing and 46% disagreeing with the high court’s ruling that the law is constitutional. Democrats widely hail the ruling, most Republicans pan it, and independents are closely divided.
Except for the mandate, its major components are all popular with the public. People are confused about the bill, what it does and doesn’t do, and what it will mean once it’s fully enacted. It’s a complex bill dealing with complex problems and people are confused about its impact.
Given the complexities of the bill, delayed enactment is a good idea from both a regulatory and private enterprise perspective. Politically, delayed enactment has been a nightmare. In the last 15 months, opponents of the bill have spent in excess of $100 million opposing it. Since the beginning of the health care reform fight, opponents have spent over $200 million opposing reform. Proponents have spent around $60 million. Yet there’s been almost no change in public opinion on the bill.
The really interesting numbers are found from the Kaiser Foundation polling that shows literally no change in response to the question “What would you like to see Congress do?” 47% want the law kept and expanded, 39% want it repealed (which includes those who simply want it repealed and those who want it repealed and replaced with Republican alternative) and 13% don’t know.
I asked Darrell West, VP and Director of Governance Studies at Brookings for perspective about this finding, and he noted that “everything associated with health care reform has been highly partisan and that is not likely to change any time soon. Public opinion has been sharply divided from the very beginning and sentiments have not changed significantly over the past few years. It is a sad commentary on our times that people cannot see beyond their own party views to evaluate how the legislation affects them personally.”
The broad point is this: health care reform is neither popular nor unpopular. Those opposed are bitterly opposed and have always been bitterly opposed; they haven’t changed their minds and aren’t likely to – they’re also as clueless as most people if not more so because they’ve been listening to the Republican party’s shockingly dishonest response to the health care reform debate. The court’s decision hasn’t changed the minds of those opposed to the bill. Those in favor will continue to favor it because it represents an improvement over the status quo. Those on the bubble will probably stay on the bubble, or move slightly more positive as they experience the bill’s positive effects. Another aspect to consider – opponents have outspent proponents 3 to 1 and have done so simply to keep the politics divisive and divided.
At the end of the day, the bill itself is unpopular but the components remain popular; once its implemented, it will get more popular. The Court’s decision, however, legitimizes the law and makes Republican opposition look like sour grapes rather than principled opposition. Republicans don’t have a replacement. Defunding the law to prevent implementation is unacceptable to two thirds of the public. The public is tired of the debate. Republicans run a huge risk if they try to re-legislate the issue.