[Posted by Karl]
Do top Democrats really believe passing ObamaCare is a plus for them?
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been telling Democrats a win on the health issue will reverse the slide in public opinion, just as passage of another controversial proposal, the North American Free Trade Agreement, lifted President Bill Clinton in the polls…
“The reality, I think, will trump poll numbers in the dead of winter as this debate is going on,” White House senior adviser David Axelrod said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”…
Emanuel or Axelrod may also be the anonymous official predicting passage of ObamaCare will send Obama’s approval rating up past 60 percent and restore his supporters’ enthusiasm. Chuck Schumer seems to be in the “bounce” camp, too.
The NAFTA analogy is a poor one, for a number of reasons. NAFTA went from being largely unknown to unpopular as it moved to the front burner. But after Al Gore cleaned Ross Perot’s clock in a CNN debate (which had a then-record audience for a cable TV program), Perot was decimated in public opinion polling and calls to Congress went from heavily against to heavily favoring it. In contrast, Obama failed to move public opinion before Congress voted.
Another difference is that opposition to NAFTA was concentrated within Democratic constituencies, primarily Big Labor. Clinton was able to smooth over those differences. In contrast, the opposition to ObamaCare is not primarily in his own party.
That dynamic is in the CNN poll which is — so far — the only evidence of a possible “bounce”. It is a “bounce” only on the Left. Even in this poll, 56% oppose ObamaCare, a plurality think it will change things for the worse for most Americans, and even more think it will make things worse for “you and your immediate family.” At this point, I want to quote Digby, just for the humor:
Other polls, like this one, show a very different result, so it’s hard to know if that means anythying.
But nonetheless, I would guess that this CNN poll will be cited everywhere as validation of the village conventional wisdom that you can’t go wrong by punching a hippie.
Digby’s right. As Allahpundit noted, the disapproval curve in the poll of polls remains unbent. For that matter, The approval numbers for Obama, Congress and ObamaCare have been stagnant over the same period. Moreover, passage of major legislation has not moved presidential approval numbers in the past.
Lefty blogger Kevin Drum does not think there will be a bounce, and hopes for amnesia:
[The] Feiler Faster thesis is largely true, and healthcare will be mostly forgotten within a few months. This bill affects a relatively small number of people; the people who are affected are almost all benefitting from it; and nothing much is going to happen until 2014 anyway. The tea partiers will stay mad, but they weren’t going to vote for Democrats in 2010 regardless. Moderates and independents, I think, will end up voting on other issues.
There is actually an element of this in Schumer’s argument:
“The reason people are negative is not the substance of the bill, but the fears that the opponents have laid out. When those fears don’t materialize, and people see the good in the bill, the numbers are going to go up.”
FDL’s Jon Walker found this nonsensical, because much of ObamaCare would not phase in until 2014. But the fact that the taxes/ penalties do not really start kicking in until 2013 gives Dems some theoretical hope that Independents might cool off.
As a practical matter, however, amnesia seems unlikely. As RCP’s Jay Cost noted on Monday, the bill stinks of politics, payoffs and partisanship. When even Lefty pundits are decrying it as a bailout of Big Insurance, it feeds the larger, populist discontent with its apparently dysfunctional government. It will be hard for the Independents who started leaving Obama and the Democrats over the stimulus bill, TARP follies and the auto industry bailout to see ObamaCare as anything other than More Of The Same — and thus hard to forget.
Update: Jay Cost notes via Twitter the the GOP will spend hundreds of millions on ads reminding voters about ObamaCare.