There are actually two polls out tonight on this, but being a dirty, dirty eeyore, I had to lead with the pessimistic one. As a prelude to the data, here’s Wesley Smith writing yesterday at The Corner:
I think there is a lot of whistling past the graveyard going on among conservatives who think that Obamacare is really in the political crosshairs now, and indeed, could lead to the defeat of the president’s reelection effort. I worry that the opposite is true. Sure, opponents who care a lot about the constitutionality and policy propriety of the ACA are very upset and motivated to defeat the president. But they already were. For the relatively uninvolved, the message of the Roberts ruling, despite the justice’s protests to the contrary, is that Obamacare is A-okay. That will increase the law’s popularity — just as Roe v. Wade did with abortion. Alas.
There’s something to be said for that. Don’t underestimate the ignorance of low-information voters. Some people will have turned on the TV last night, seen liberals celebrating outside the Court, heard about Obama’s “big victory,” and come away thinking at best that the issue is settled and at worst that they should hold the law in higher esteem now. Over at Gallup, the split is 46/46 overall on the ruling and 45/42 in favor among independents — albeit with an ironic punchline for Roberts:
If you believe that he voted the way he did in order to preserve the Court’s prestige as a nonpartisan institution that’s above politics, there’s your consolation prize. Among independents and Republicans, the ruling had the opposite effect.
Now for the other poll. Second look at Newsweek?
Overall, 50 percent of those polled said they disapprove of the court’s 5–4 decision, while 45 percent said they support it. Consistently, a majority of voters said that they oppose the individual mandate (53 percent); believe taxes will increase (52 percent); believe their personal health-care costs will increase (56 percent); and disapprove of Obama’s handling of health care in general (58 percent). Only 24 percent of those polled said that they believe the ruling will make the country better off…
Even as those polled said that they prefer Romney to Obama on health care—as well as almost every other issue, with the exception of terrorism, foreign policy, and education—voters said that they trust Democrats more than Republicans overall on the major questions facing the nation, 37 percent to 32 percent.
Romney leads Obama by 15 points(!) on the economy and by eight when voters are asked whom they prefer to handle health care. As for The One’s approval rating on health care, behold:
Now that the battle’s been joined on this issue, lefty Michael Tomasky wonders if Paul Ryan’s stock is up with respect to VP. If this is going to be front and center among the conservative base until election day, Romney might as well have the most effective possible attack dog on the ticket making the case that health-care regulations are bringing about a new Greece here in America. The problem, of course, as Tomasky admits, is that if Ryan’s on the ticket then the health-care debate isn’t just about ObamaCare but about Ryan’s budget too, the prospect of which surely doesn’t thrill Romney. And truth be told, I’m not so sure that health care will remain front and center all the way to November. Team Mitt’s battle plan all along has been economy, economy, economy on the assumption that swing voters will finally turn on O if things don’t pick up by the fall. There’s no similar assumption with O-Care. Voters will probably go on not liking it but independents may end up fairly evenly divided, with even the anti-ObamaCare faction much more tepid in its opposition than conservatives are. And if Smith is right about the Court’s imprimatur shifting public opinion about the statute, then making the election about O-Care is even dicier. Besides, the engine of animus to the program is the mandate and we’ve made Mr. Mandate our nominee. Do you really want to bet four years on Romney’s ability to convince viewers at the first debate that his state mandate is totally copacetic while Obama’s is a liberty-destroying nightmare?
That said, O-Care is still unpopular on balance — enough so that, via the Standard, certain swing-state senators are lying very low in order to avoid talking about it. Two minutes of Friday fun for you here.
Update: David Plouffe wants Senate Democrats to start talking up their enormous new mandate/tax? Maybe we should make this election about health care after all:
The White House is encouraging congressional Democrats to go on the offensive after the Supreme Court upheld the president’s signature healthcare legislation Thursday, urging members on the campaign trail to “illustrate how the President and Democrats in Congress are standing up for the middle class.”
The memo, written by White House senior adviser David Plouffe and sent to the House and Senate Democratic caucuses, says the party should be happy to debate Republicans on taxes.
“After over a decade of watching the security of the middle class erode, Republicans in Congress are determined to return to the exact same policies that led to the economic crisis,” Plouffe argues. “The President refuses to settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by.”
Update: Annnnd, right on cue, American Crossroads fires away: