The Wall Street Journal/NBC poll reaffirms the bad news the Obama administration so dearly wishes Democratic House members would ignore:
The survey found that opinions have solidified around the health-care legislation, with 48% calling it a “bad idea” and 36% viewing it as a “good idea” when presented with a choice between those two. That gap is consistent with surveys dating to the fall.
That 48 percent is up two points from last month and up one from December, the previous high, which is when we last focused intently on ObamaCare’s passage. The more attention paid to the bill, the more intense the opposition becomes.
And indeed there seems to be a related “enthusiasm” gap: “The survey found a 21-point enthusiasm gap between the parties, with 67% of Republicans saying they are very interested in the November elections, compared with 46% of Democrats.” Democrats conclude that the solution is to rev up their base by passing a health-care bill that everyone else hates quite a lot. (“Democratic voters strongly favor the legislation being pushed by President Barack Obama, particularly constituencies such as blacks, Latinos and self-described liberals. Those groups mobilized in 2008 to help elect Mr. Obama, but are far less enthusiastic than core Republicans about voting in this year’s midterm elections.”)
There are two problems with this notion. First, it does not persuade the relevant individual House members in specific swing districts who can’t win purely on the turnout of “blacks, Latinos and self-described liberals.” In fact, as we saw in Massachusetts, it’s hard in many locales to win purely with the liberal base. (When turn-out-the-base Republican strategy was all the rage, liberal pundits had no trouble debunking the idea that a party could be successful without capturing the vast center of the political spectrum.) The problem for House members in Ohio and Pennsylvania is that independent voters and conservative activists have forged an alliance in opposition to ObamaCare. Knowing that Nancy Pelosi’s base will be tickled by the passage of the bill is small consolation for these House members.
Second, passing ObamaCare, especially with the jaw-dropping procedural stunts, will quite likely drive anti-Obama voters to the polls in even greater numbers. And in a midterm election, many of those newly mobilized 2008 Obama voters aren’t going to show up. They simply aren’t that interested in voting for their local congressman. (Anti-Obama activists and independents determined to “send a message” are a different story.)
The bottom line: wavering House Democrats should be skeptical that a vote for Obama’s health-care scheme makes political sense.
There is another set of polling data of which Obama might want to take note. A robust foreign policy appeals to the American voters. Where Obama has continued and bolstered his predecessor’s policies — Iraq and Afghanistan — he gets his highest approval ratings (53 percent). And on Iran, “a 51%-38% majority in the survey supported initiating military action to destroy Iran’s ability to make nuclear weapons if Tehran continues its nuclear program and is close to developing a weapon. Thirty-nine percent said they strongly supported military action.”
The message from this may be that Obama’s path to political success will come not from pursuing his radical domestic agenda but in successfully fighting the war against Islamic fundamentalism. Yes, it is ironic.