Here’s another finding from today’s Washington Post/ABC poll that might surprise people. On health care, people pick Barack Obama over Mitt Romney “to do a better job” on health care by a ten point spread. Yup, health care. That’s more than Obama’s seven-point edge in the horse race question, and makes health care the third-best issue for the president out of ten areas tested, behind only foreign affairs and women’s issues.
How can that be, if Obama’s health care reform law is so unpopular?
One thing this result suggests (and as always, I wouldn’t lean too hard on one result in one poll) is that perhaps the polling that shows the various individual provisions of the Affordable Care Act are popular might be more significant than the polling that shows the law as a whole is unpopular. That is, voters might support a candidate who tries to eliminate lifetime caps and denying coverage for preexisting conditions, along with closing the donut hole for Medicare and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance, even if they don’t like “Obamacare.”
On the other hand, some context is in order here. During the 2008 campaign, Obama typically held a 20 to 30 point lead over John McCain on health care — for example, a Post/ABC poll in October 2008 gave Obama a 59 to 30 lead. That was probably due in part to Obama’s overall strong lead at the time, but it’s possible to interpret a 10 point lead as a narrowing of the gap.
Still, even if Dems are winning on health care by fewer points than usual, that doesn’t exactly make it a strong Republican issue. Especially since Romney and Congressional Republicans still have nothing positive to say on health care, and given that there’s still no “replace” to go with their “repeal” pledge. It’s a good reminder that whatever the Supreme Court does in June, health care overall is a traditionally good Democratic issue that figures to play well for Barack Obama, and poorly for Mitt Romney, this November.
(Via Jonathan Cohn.)