Mara Liasson on Fox News Sunday described the aftermath of ObamaCare:
What’s happened this week is that although the polls haven’t moved in any big way, there’s been a slight narrowing of the difference between the positive and negative feelings about this. Still, there’s more negative than positive.
But for the Democrats, what’s really important for the midterms is that finally, the intensity among the Democratic base, the number of Democrats who are strongly supportive of this, has come way up. And it’s beginning at least to balance out the strongly negative feelings that the Republicans have been riding among their base.
We don’t know yet if this is the high-water mark for the opposition to this, if it’s going to grow or if it’s going to dissipate.
But one of the problems I do think the White House is going to have, and they’re going to have to come up with an answer to this, is that premiums are likely to go up, and they might even start going up in a lot of places before November, before all of the things that would keep premiums down kick in, long before.
So Republicans are going to be able to say in the fall, “Ah-ha, your premiums went up,” just like they’re going to say, “Ah-ha, there’s still 10 percent unemployment.” And the White House knows it has a huge selling job ahead of it, and I think the president started this week and they’re just going to have to keep at it.
In other words, “Ah-ha — you sold us a bill of goods.” As Bill Kristol pointed out, it’s worse than that really. Citing the Washington Post/ABC News poll (with a stark undersampling of Republicans), he explains that voters aren’t embracing the “historic” achievement that Obama and the media spinners are touting:
The media celebrates it as historic, on the level of Medicare and Social Security. The president of the United States goes out and spends a week campaigning for it.Forty-six to 50 — people disapprove of it. He hasn’t moved the numbers at all. He’s slightly generated more Democratic enthusiasm, but the overall public sentiment is negative. Independents are negative. The generic congressional ballot is bad for the Democrats.
Among those who were asked, “Would you vote on this issue? Would you be more likely to vote for a congressional candidate who supports or opposes,” it’s 26-32. That is really bad for the Democrats.
I mean, if they couldn’t take advantage of the momentum of passing this legislation, the signing ceremony, the media, the president traveling around, when are they going to have a bump?
This emphasizes just how limited Obama’s ability to move public opinion is. He persuaded 53 percent of the voters to elect him, but he’s convinced them of precious little since then. They don’t buy that the stimulus worked. They don’t think closing Guantanamo is a good idea. (Last January 47 percent wanted to keep Guantanamo open; now 60 percent do.) And they aren’t buying his sales pitch that his monstrous health-care scheme is going to cut the deficit, save them money, or improve their own medical care.
Real experience with ObamaCare, as with the stimulus plan, may cement voters’ take on the legislation as the premium hikes and Medicare cuts take their toll. The risk with overselling and misrepresenting to the voters either a candidate or a piece of legislation is that sooner or later they catch on — and then they get the chance to exact their revenge at the ballot box. As the president said, that’s what elections are for.