Polling shows Republicans fighting a losing battle on ACA repeal, by @DavidOAtkins

Polling shows Republicans fighting a losing battle on ACA repeal

by David Atkins

Greg Sargent has an excellent analysis of the polling on the Affordable Care Act today. The basic summary is that public opinion is nearly evenly split on the Supreme Court's decision (and moderates are slightly in favor of it.) And as we've known for a long while, a majority of people want to repeal the law but keep most of its provisions. The mandate, of course, is the least popular part of the law, while making insurance affordable for those with pre-existing conditions and allowing those under 26 to remain on their parents' coverage are highly popular.

But perhaps the most problematic polling number for Republicans is this:

This poll fielded following the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the heart of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) finds a majority of Americans (56 percent) now say they would like to see the law’s detractors stop their efforts to block its implementation and move on to other national problems...

Solid majorities of voters of every political stripe say the decision won’t impact whether or not they vote this November – though Republicans are more likely than Democrats (31 percent compared to 18 percent) to say the result makes them more likely to turn out.
The economy and jobs are top of mind for voters this election, not the intricacies of healthcare law. But the Republicans have spent so much time inflaming their base by painting the Affordable Care Act as a Communist takeover, that they don't have much choice but to make full repeal of the law a rallying cry through November. The more they talk about it, the more voters will see Republicans as unfocused on their principal concerns.

As a policy matter, the fight will really be over implementation of Medicaid expansion. But as a political matter, that too is a losing battle for Republicans. Bright red states where Romney is already assured of victory won't have any problem with letting poor people die due to lack of access to healthcare, but that won't fly well with more morally sane parts of the country where the election will be decided.

Creating a fictional, terrifying alternate reality for rubes can be very useful for mobilizing one's base and stopping key reforms. But it also has very negative political consequences and backfires over the long run as that base of rubes continues to shrink.