Commentary Magazine


Topic: voters

Poll: Raising Taxes on Rich Isn’t Priority

Today’s Gallup poll found that on a list of 12 voting priorities, raising taxes on the wealthy comes in last place, with 49 percent of respondents saying it’s “very” or “extremely” important.

The first five, in order, are “creating good jobs” (92 percent), “reducing corruption in federal government” (87 percent), “reducing the federal budget deficit” (86 percent), “dealing with terrorism and other international threats” (86 percent) and “ensuring the long-term stability of Social Security and Medicaid” (85 percent). Gallup concludes with this analysis:

Americans’ to-do list for the president on Jan. 20, 2013 — whether it be Obama or Romney — includes creating good jobs, reducing government corruption, and reducing the federal budget deficit. Supporters of both candidates agree about the importance of jobs and corruption, while the deficit is a higher priority for Romney supporters than Obama supporters. In turn, Obama supporters believe the next president should have healthcare, Social Security and Medicare, and public education among his highest priorities.

Job creation has certainly been and will continue to be a major topic during the remainder of the campaign. And both candidates will surely need to outline their plans for reducing the federal budget deficit. However, it is unclear whether government corruption will become a major issue in the campaign, even though Americans see reducing it as an important goal.

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Today’s Gallup poll found that on a list of 12 voting priorities, raising taxes on the wealthy comes in last place, with 49 percent of respondents saying it’s “very” or “extremely” important.

The first five, in order, are “creating good jobs” (92 percent), “reducing corruption in federal government” (87 percent), “reducing the federal budget deficit” (86 percent), “dealing with terrorism and other international threats” (86 percent) and “ensuring the long-term stability of Social Security and Medicaid” (85 percent). Gallup concludes with this analysis:

Americans’ to-do list for the president on Jan. 20, 2013 — whether it be Obama or Romney — includes creating good jobs, reducing government corruption, and reducing the federal budget deficit. Supporters of both candidates agree about the importance of jobs and corruption, while the deficit is a higher priority for Romney supporters than Obama supporters. In turn, Obama supporters believe the next president should have healthcare, Social Security and Medicare, and public education among his highest priorities.

Job creation has certainly been and will continue to be a major topic during the remainder of the campaign. And both candidates will surely need to outline their plans for reducing the federal budget deficit. However, it is unclear whether government corruption will become a major issue in the campaign, even though Americans see reducing it as an important goal.

The biggest surprise is that “reducing corruption in the federal government” ranks so high. Gallup’s March poll on voter priorities apparently didn’t include that issue in its survey on voters’ top 15 concerns. It would be interesting to know if concerns about government corruption are growing, and if so, if it has anything to do with the actions of the Obama administration. But clearly there seems to be a lot of untapped anxiety about this. The Romney campaign hasn’t spent much time hitting Obama over Fast and Furious and Solyndra, though you can bet with these poll numbers Romney is going to start. Not only is Obama’s biggest campaign issue (taxes on the rich) a nonstarter with the public, the corruption issue is untread territory that’s ripe for GOP attacks.

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Voters and Romney’s Mormon Faith

There’s been some concern that Republican-leaning evangelical voters might be hesitant to vote for Mitt Romney because of his religion. But the latest Pew Research Center survey found little justification for that theory:

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted June 28-July 9, 2012, among 2,973 adults, including 2,373 registered voters, finds that 60 percent of voters are aware that Romney is Mormon, virtually unchanged from four months ago, during the GOP primaries.

The vast majority of those who are aware of Romney’s faith say it doesn’t concern them. Fully eight-in-ten voters who know Romney is Mormon say they are either comfortable with his faith (60 percent) or that it doesn’t matter to them (21 percent).

Oddly enough, more voters (60 percent) correctly identify Romney’s religion as Mormon than (49 percent) correctly identify Obama’s religion as Christian. Seventeen percent still say Obama is Muslim, a statistic that the media always loves to jump on as “proof” of public stupidity.

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There’s been some concern that Republican-leaning evangelical voters might be hesitant to vote for Mitt Romney because of his religion. But the latest Pew Research Center survey found little justification for that theory:

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted June 28-July 9, 2012, among 2,973 adults, including 2,373 registered voters, finds that 60 percent of voters are aware that Romney is Mormon, virtually unchanged from four months ago, during the GOP primaries.

The vast majority of those who are aware of Romney’s faith say it doesn’t concern them. Fully eight-in-ten voters who know Romney is Mormon say they are either comfortable with his faith (60 percent) or that it doesn’t matter to them (21 percent).

Oddly enough, more voters (60 percent) correctly identify Romney’s religion as Mormon than (49 percent) correctly identify Obama’s religion as Christian. Seventeen percent still say Obama is Muslim, a statistic that the media always loves to jump on as “proof” of public stupidity.

But in fact, religion doesn’t seem to have a major influence over who people vote for, according to Pew. Though it does seem to impact voter enthusiasm:

Comfort with Romney’s faith, however, is related to the enthusiasm of Republican support for his candidacy. Among Republican and Republican-leaning voters who say they are comfortable with Romney being Mormon, 44 percent back him strongly. Among those who are uncomfortable with it, just 21 percent say they back him strongly.

Romney hasn’t spent much time talking about his religion, and according to Pew, there is little reason for him to do so. Just 16 percent of voters say they want to know more about Romney’s faith — and it’s probably safe to assume most of them work at the New York Times.

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Business Owners Responsible for Success

WaPo’s Glenn Kessler — whose recent takedown of Obama’s Bain attacks prompted a tidal wave of outrage from the left — gave the Romney campaign three Pinocchios for its ad on Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comments. He starts out by saying the Romney campaign removed a big chunk of words from Obama’s speech (as 30-second political ads typically to do), to unfairly make it seem like the president was attacking entrepreneurship:

The biggest problem with Romney’s ad is that it leaves out just enough chunks of Obama’s words — such as a reference to “roads and bridges”— so that it sounds like Obama is attacking individual initiative. The ad deceivingly cuts away from Obama speaking in order to make it seem as if the sentences follow one another, when in fact eight sentences are snipped away.

Suddenly, the word “that” appears as if it is referring to a business, rather than (apparently) to roads and bridges. …

In other words, this is an argument that Democrats have been making for decades, one that Republicans have every right to reject. Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, for instance, understood fully that Obama was talking about roads and still thought his logic was faulty.

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WaPo’s Glenn Kessler — whose recent takedown of Obama’s Bain attacks prompted a tidal wave of outrage from the left — gave the Romney campaign three Pinocchios for its ad on Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comments. He starts out by saying the Romney campaign removed a big chunk of words from Obama’s speech (as 30-second political ads typically to do), to unfairly make it seem like the president was attacking entrepreneurship:

The biggest problem with Romney’s ad is that it leaves out just enough chunks of Obama’s words — such as a reference to “roads and bridges”— so that it sounds like Obama is attacking individual initiative. The ad deceivingly cuts away from Obama speaking in order to make it seem as if the sentences follow one another, when in fact eight sentences are snipped away.

Suddenly, the word “that” appears as if it is referring to a business, rather than (apparently) to roads and bridges. …

In other words, this is an argument that Democrats have been making for decades, one that Republicans have every right to reject. Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, for instance, understood fully that Obama was talking about roads and still thought his logic was faulty.

What Kessler fails to establish is that Obama is referring to infrastructure as opposed to businesses. This is a debate that’s been going on for the past week, and instead of making the case one way or the other, Kessler starts from the assumption the Obama campaign’s explanation is correct. He also cites Charles Krauthammer as someone who has agreed that Obama was referring to roads and bridges, when in fact Krauthammer has specifically said the opposite.

The Obama campaign has a strong incentive to kill this controversy, or at least obscure the meaning of his quote. A Rasmussen poll found that 72 percent of likely voters believe small business owners are primarily responsible for their success:

Most Americans believe entrepreneurs who start businesses do more to create jobs and economic growth than big businesses or government. They also believe overwhelmingly that small business owners work harder than other Americans and are primarily responsible for the success or failure of their businesses.

Seventy-two percent (72%) of Likely U.S. Voters believe that people who start small businesses are primarily responsible for their success or failure. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 13 percent disagree.

Obama’s business philosophy puts him at odds with most voters, and the Romney campaign has been making that clear with its latest ad.

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Voter Enthusiasm Among GOP Rises

Four years ago, could we have guessed that President Obama would soon be considered less exciting than candidate Mitt Romney? The enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats has grown to more than 20 points since March, according to today’s CBS News/NYT poll (h/t HotAir):

Meantime, three and a half months before election day, Republican enthusiasm about voting this year has shot up since Mitt Romney clinched the nomination in April, from 36 percent of Republicans saying they were more enthusiastic in March to 49 percent now.

President Obama was helped to election in 2008 by a wave of voter enthusiasm among Democrats, however this year, Democratic enthusiasm is down a bit since March. Twenty-seven percent of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic about voting this year than they were in past elections, compared to 30 percent four months ago. And 48 percent of Democrats say their enthusiasm this year is the same as past elections, compared to 39 percent who answered the same question in March.

Independent voters’ enthusiasm is also up with 29 percent saying they’re more enthusiastic now from 22 percent four months ago.

Overall, voters aren’t as enthusiastic about this year’s election as they were in 2008. Just 33 percent of all registered voters said they were more enthusiastic this year than they were for past elections, compared to 41 percent in March 2008.

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Four years ago, could we have guessed that President Obama would soon be considered less exciting than candidate Mitt Romney? The enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats has grown to more than 20 points since March, according to today’s CBS News/NYT poll (h/t HotAir):

Meantime, three and a half months before election day, Republican enthusiasm about voting this year has shot up since Mitt Romney clinched the nomination in April, from 36 percent of Republicans saying they were more enthusiastic in March to 49 percent now.

President Obama was helped to election in 2008 by a wave of voter enthusiasm among Democrats, however this year, Democratic enthusiasm is down a bit since March. Twenty-seven percent of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic about voting this year than they were in past elections, compared to 30 percent four months ago. And 48 percent of Democrats say their enthusiasm this year is the same as past elections, compared to 39 percent who answered the same question in March.

Independent voters’ enthusiasm is also up with 29 percent saying they’re more enthusiastic now from 22 percent four months ago.

Overall, voters aren’t as enthusiastic about this year’s election as they were in 2008. Just 33 percent of all registered voters said they were more enthusiastic this year than they were for past elections, compared to 41 percent in March 2008.

The GOP-Democratic gap is actually less troubling for Obama than the rising enthusiasm among independent voters. What’s causing the trend? The next line in the CBS story might give you an idea:

As for the direction of the country, voters are growing increasingly more pessimistic, however.

Sixty-four percent of those polled think the country is on the wrong track, up from 62 percent in May.

At HotAir, Ed Morrissey raises another good, related point:

The big takeaway, though, is that 49 percent of Republicans and 29 percent of independents express increased enthusiasm for this election, while only 27 percent of Democrats say the same thing. If Obama’s attacks are depressing enthusiasm, it’s pretty clear whose enthusiasm he’s depressing. That was always the risk for a candidate whose main qualification for office was hope and change, and whose signature outcome has been economic stagnation.

This is particularly problematic for Obama because his reelection relies on him either getting his base out to the polls in greater numbers than in 2008 or winning over new supporters to make up for the ones he’s lost. It doesn’t look like he’s made headway in either area, according to this poll. Not only does this point to a troubling trend down the road, it also requires Obama to refigure his current talking points. As Politico’s Donovan Slack reports, the Obama campaign has tended to play up positive enthusiasm numbers to argue it’s in good shape for November.

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The Agent of (Negative) Change

According to a new poll for The Hill, two-thirds of likely voters say President Obama has kept his 2008 campaign promise to change America—but it’s changed for the worse.

The survey found 56 percent of likely voters believe Obama’s first term has transformed the nation in a negative way, compared to 35 percent who believe the country has changed for the better under his leadership.

As one would expect, the belief that the president has changed the country for the worse is strongest among Republicans (91 percent). Somewhat surprisingly, only 71 percent of Democrats believe Obama has changed things for the better. I say that because a strikingly high number of Democrats—one in five—are willing to admit they believe Obama has changed the United States for the worse.

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According to a new poll for The Hill, two-thirds of likely voters say President Obama has kept his 2008 campaign promise to change America—but it’s changed for the worse.

The survey found 56 percent of likely voters believe Obama’s first term has transformed the nation in a negative way, compared to 35 percent who believe the country has changed for the better under his leadership.

As one would expect, the belief that the president has changed the country for the worse is strongest among Republicans (91 percent). Somewhat surprisingly, only 71 percent of Democrats believe Obama has changed things for the better. I say that because a strikingly high number of Democrats—one in five—are willing to admit they believe Obama has changed the United States for the worse.

We’re now less than 120 days away from an election in which a sizeable majority of Americans believe the incumbent president has changed America for the worse.

This is the kind of finding that will have a deflating effect on Obama’s political team. Indeed, from the perspective of a re-election campaign, this news is devastating. And there’s very little Obama can do at this stage to reverse it.

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Poll: ObamaCare Hurts Economy

It’s still a bit early to say how much of an impact the Supreme Court decision will have on the public opinion on ObamaCare in general. So far, it hasn’t seemed to have had much effect, though it wouldn’t be a surprise if it ended up swaying some people — softening some opponents, energizing others.

But Americans are adamant about the negative impact ObamaCare will have on the economy, the top issue for voters. Gallup has the latest today:

Americans are more likely to say the 2010 healthcare law upheld by the Supreme Court last week will hurt the national economy (46 percent) rather than help it (37 percent), while 18 percent say they don’t know or that it will have no effect. …

Average Americans are certainly in no better position than economists to know exactly how the legislation will affect the economy, but their assumptions and perceptions have political repercussions nevertheless. And at this point, Americans’ views on the economic impact of the ACA are more negative than positive.

Views of the economic impact of the ACA are, as is true with everything else about the legislation, bound up with politics. Republicans, who generally oppose the ACA, overwhelmingly think it will hurt the economy, while Democrats, who generally favor it, think it will help. Independents tilt toward the “hurt” rather than the “help” position.

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It’s still a bit early to say how much of an impact the Supreme Court decision will have on the public opinion on ObamaCare in general. So far, it hasn’t seemed to have had much effect, though it wouldn’t be a surprise if it ended up swaying some people — softening some opponents, energizing others.

But Americans are adamant about the negative impact ObamaCare will have on the economy, the top issue for voters. Gallup has the latest today:

Americans are more likely to say the 2010 healthcare law upheld by the Supreme Court last week will hurt the national economy (46 percent) rather than help it (37 percent), while 18 percent say they don’t know or that it will have no effect. …

Average Americans are certainly in no better position than economists to know exactly how the legislation will affect the economy, but their assumptions and perceptions have political repercussions nevertheless. And at this point, Americans’ views on the economic impact of the ACA are more negative than positive.

Views of the economic impact of the ACA are, as is true with everything else about the legislation, bound up with politics. Republicans, who generally oppose the ACA, overwhelmingly think it will hurt the economy, while Democrats, who generally favor it, think it will help. Independents tilt toward the “hurt” rather than the “help” position.

The fact that the mandate is now a “tax” isn’t going to help in this area, which makes you wonder again how the Romney campaign managed to step on that message so badly. Independents are clearly receptive to the economic impact argument, which makes Obama’s comments yesterday about “moving on” from the health care debate seem even more tone deaf. This isn’t partisan criticism. These are legitimate concerns from independent voters, and the president comes off as out of touch by dismissing them outright.

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Taking the Views of the Voters into Account

During my appearance earlier this week on a national talk radio talk show, a caller – in the context of how formidable Mitt Romney is as a candidate – argued that the test will be whether Romney criticizes Barack Obama for his pre-presidential associations and voting record. In the last few weeks, I’ve also heard from a friend who thought the president’s critics should focus attention on Obama’s association with the radical New Party (for more, see Stanley Kurtz’s fine piece here). And still others have argued with me that Obama’s failure to produce his transcripts from college ought to be a focal point of the election.

My answer in each case is this: Among the challenges in politics is to remind oneself that issues we think are of major importance aren’t always what much of the public thinks are issues of major importance. In other words, you could believe that Obama’s association with the New Party is relevant in terms of his past and current policies – but much of the public might simply disagree. A campaign has to pursue strategies that are effective — and no campaign manager worth his salt will spend valuable time fighting to convince the public they should care about an issue they don’t much care about.

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During my appearance earlier this week on a national talk radio talk show, a caller – in the context of how formidable Mitt Romney is as a candidate – argued that the test will be whether Romney criticizes Barack Obama for his pre-presidential associations and voting record. In the last few weeks, I’ve also heard from a friend who thought the president’s critics should focus attention on Obama’s association with the radical New Party (for more, see Stanley Kurtz’s fine piece here). And still others have argued with me that Obama’s failure to produce his transcripts from college ought to be a focal point of the election.

My answer in each case is this: Among the challenges in politics is to remind oneself that issues we think are of major importance aren’t always what much of the public thinks are issues of major importance. In other words, you could believe that Obama’s association with the New Party is relevant in terms of his past and current policies – but much of the public might simply disagree. A campaign has to pursue strategies that are effective — and no campaign manager worth his salt will spend valuable time fighting to convince the public they should care about an issue they don’t much care about.

There’s an argument to be made that there’s much in Obama’s past that is not only legitimate to discuss but foreshadowed his presidency. Still, that doesn’t make it a wise tactic to use in an election in which (a) the public is already quite familiar with the incumbent (the result being that revelations about his distant past won’t move the needle in terms of their views toward him) and (b) the incumbent has amassed an indefensible record on the economy, which is far and away the issue most on the minds of the voters. Independents in particular would probably be turned off by all this, judging it to be a petty distraction from the issues that are most on their minds.

To reiterate: this doesn’t make Obama’s past off-limits or irrelevant. And those who spend their life commenting on politics have every right to delve into these matters. It simply means that if Republicans running for office hope to win, they’ll align their campaign with the issues the voters consider predominant.

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Voters Sour on Obama

Eleanor Clift, writing in The Daily Beast, reports on a focus group of a dozen independent voters. The bottom line? They are souring on Obama – including many of those who voted for him in 2008.

To be specific, Democratic pollster Peter Hart gathered a group (sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center) in Denver last week. Nine of the 12 people voted for Obama four years ago. Today, only three lean toward him. Among the findings: (a) independents “aren’t biting” when it comes to the attacks on Mitt Romney on Bain Capital; (b) to the degree the public believes the economy is improving, the president doesn’t get the credit for it; (c) the president simply is not connecting with the voters he needs to win; and (d) there’s “no sense of leadership” emanating from the president.

“Whether it’s a failure of policy or of communications is debatable,” according to Clift, “but the sense of disillusionment with Obama’s performance is real.”

“He set up expectations that began 46 months ago, and they only grew over time,” according to Hart.

One man, a 31-year-old Web designer and home remodeler who voted for Obama in 2008, said, “The whole platform was hope—I don’t feel any more hope today.”

Pressed by Hart as to which candidate he was leaning toward, this person admitted, “I don’t even know if I’m going to vote this time.” In Hart’s view, the young Web designer should be in Obama’s corner, and the fact that he isn’t is emblematic of the president’s problems.

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Eleanor Clift, writing in The Daily Beast, reports on a focus group of a dozen independent voters. The bottom line? They are souring on Obama – including many of those who voted for him in 2008.

To be specific, Democratic pollster Peter Hart gathered a group (sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center) in Denver last week. Nine of the 12 people voted for Obama four years ago. Today, only three lean toward him. Among the findings: (a) independents “aren’t biting” when it comes to the attacks on Mitt Romney on Bain Capital; (b) to the degree the public believes the economy is improving, the president doesn’t get the credit for it; (c) the president simply is not connecting with the voters he needs to win; and (d) there’s “no sense of leadership” emanating from the president.

“Whether it’s a failure of policy or of communications is debatable,” according to Clift, “but the sense of disillusionment with Obama’s performance is real.”

“He set up expectations that began 46 months ago, and they only grew over time,” according to Hart.

One man, a 31-year-old Web designer and home remodeler who voted for Obama in 2008, said, “The whole platform was hope—I don’t feel any more hope today.”

Pressed by Hart as to which candidate he was leaning toward, this person admitted, “I don’t even know if I’m going to vote this time.” In Hart’s view, the young Web designer should be in Obama’s corner, and the fact that he isn’t is emblematic of the president’s problems.

It’s true enough that Governor Romney has not closed the sale with these voters (which one wouldn’t really expect at this stage). And there’s always the possibility that the president will win back these voters. But for now, there is a pronounced and undeniable erosion in support for the president. The sense one gets is that these independents, who bought into the high expectations Obama created in 2008, have been terribly let down by him. He’s liked but viewed as weak. The candidate who four years ago promised  to slow the rise of the oceans and begin to heal the planet is seen, even by his erstwhile supporters, as overmatched by events and at their mercy. The Obama who was sold to us in 2008 was a mirage.

Perhaps Obama really is best equipped to be a community organizer.

If the attacks on Bain Capital aren’t taking root, the meta-narrative that Barack Obama is simply inept and in over his head is. There might be worse impressions for an incumbent president to have – but if so, they don’t immediately come to mind.

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The Move to Single-Payer Health Care

Do voters exist? In the United States, that is–do we still have voters? All available evidence points to yes, we have millions upon millions of them who vote in national elections. But maybe I’m getting too caught up in the numbers. Recent anecdotal evidence challenges my theory. I’m referring, of course, to the obvious consequences if the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare. The result, everyone says, will be single-payer, government-run health care for all.

The problem, though, is that this was suggested and polled repeatedly during the health care debates in 2009-10. As the debates dragged on, a single-payer health care program repeatedly polled as the least popular path to universal coverage, and its poll numbers dropped over time. So I’ll pose a simple question: If the entire Obamacare law is struck down, will President Obama campaign on a single-payer system? No, he won’t. And the reason is because it will hurt him with voters, who in the end really do exist. Ezra Klein has, however, proposed a feasible way for the Democrats to move toward a default single-payer system:

I think that path would look something like this: With health-care reform either repealed or overturned, both Democrats and Republicans shy away from proposing any big changes to the health-care system for the next decade or so. But with continued increases in the cost of health insurance and a steady erosion in employer-based coverage, Democrats begin dipping their toes in the water with a strategy based around incremental expansions of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. They move these policies through budget reconciliation, where they can be passed with 51 votes in the Senate, and, over time, this leads to more and more Americans being covered through public insurance. Eventually, we end up with something close to a single-payer system, as a majority of Americans — and particularly a majority of Americans who have significant health risks — are covered by the government.

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Do voters exist? In the United States, that is–do we still have voters? All available evidence points to yes, we have millions upon millions of them who vote in national elections. But maybe I’m getting too caught up in the numbers. Recent anecdotal evidence challenges my theory. I’m referring, of course, to the obvious consequences if the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare. The result, everyone says, will be single-payer, government-run health care for all.

The problem, though, is that this was suggested and polled repeatedly during the health care debates in 2009-10. As the debates dragged on, a single-payer health care program repeatedly polled as the least popular path to universal coverage, and its poll numbers dropped over time. So I’ll pose a simple question: If the entire Obamacare law is struck down, will President Obama campaign on a single-payer system? No, he won’t. And the reason is because it will hurt him with voters, who in the end really do exist. Ezra Klein has, however, proposed a feasible way for the Democrats to move toward a default single-payer system:

I think that path would look something like this: With health-care reform either repealed or overturned, both Democrats and Republicans shy away from proposing any big changes to the health-care system for the next decade or so. But with continued increases in the cost of health insurance and a steady erosion in employer-based coverage, Democrats begin dipping their toes in the water with a strategy based around incremental expansions of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. They move these policies through budget reconciliation, where they can be passed with 51 votes in the Senate, and, over time, this leads to more and more Americans being covered through public insurance. Eventually, we end up with something close to a single-payer system, as a majority of Americans — and particularly a majority of Americans who have significant health risks — are covered by the government.

It certainly could happen. Klein isn’t in love with the idea, to say the least. But yes, it’s a possibility. But the part I take issue with is the first sentence, in which Klein says everybody walks away from the health insurance issue for a decade. I don’t think Obama would do that, and I don’t think the election could pass by without health care thrust right back in the debate, only this time centered on the question of how to replace Obamacare.

So in that case, politically, what does Obama do? Like I said, I don’t think he runs as an advocate for single-payer. Klein’s suggestion is probably workable in the long run, but Obama can’t run on it. He cannot stage a re-election campaign on the idea that he’ll give up the reform game and that it’s now up to Harry Reid to slowly and quietly bring us to the cusp of single-payer while everyone else is distracted watching “Mad Men” and arguing over Tim Tebow.

Again, I don’t doubt the feasibility of this incremental Medicare-for-all approach. But elections include voters, and voters will want to know what the candidates are going to do about health care if Obamacare disappears entirely. The president cannot say “nothing.” He cannot say “trust us, we’ll take care of it in a way that requires no public discussion and no voter input.” And he cannot say: “We’ll do what Canada and Britain have done.” So what will he say?

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