From a memo for Resurgent Republic by Whit Ayres, president of North Star Opinion Research, and Luke Frans, executive director of Resurgent Republic.
Anticipation is building for the Supreme Court ruling on President Obama’s health care reform law, expected no later than June 28. The announcement will have a significant impact on the political landscape and set off a frenzy of news coverage and political analysis, but it will likely be several weeks before public opinion settles (especially given the July 4th holiday) and we can thoughtfully determine to what extent the decision is a game changer.
Even though the political landscape will reset following the verdict, there are still several well-established trend lines that provide helpful context for the imminent announcement and the prognostications to quickly follow.
1. It’s about the cost of health care, stupid. Voters’ top priority for health care reform is to reduce out-of-control costs. As the health care debate got underway in 2009, voters’ guidance to President Obama and Congress on how to move forward with health care reform was clear: do something to control costs. In Resurgent Republic’s June 2009 survey, half of Independents agreed (49 percent), ranking this priority above improving quality of care (23 percent) and covering the uninsured (19 percent).
The Battleground Poll from December 2009 also found that lowering costs was the electorate’s top priority for health care reform. What’s more noteworthy, the survey asked voters to identify President Obama’s primary goal. More than 6 in 10 voters (63 percent) said the president wanted to “make sure every American has health insurance,” 11 percent said lower costs, and 7 percent said improve quality of care. From the beginning there has been a disconnect between what voters say is important in health care reform and the policies President Obama relentlessly pursued.
Voters want common sense health care reform that reduces out-of-control costs and keeps families and individuals in control of their own health care decisions, unlike ObamaCare.
2. The electorate believes the nation is worse off under the president’s health care law. Strong majorities of Independents expect the health care reform law to increase their premiums, health care costs, the federal deficit, and taxes, while more believe it will hurt rather than help the quality of care. A national survey for the Young Guns Policy Center in March 2012 asked Independents how the health care reform law would affect the following categories:
• Premiums – 56 percent of Independents think health insurance premiums will go up.
• Health Care Costs – 60 percent of Independents say costs will increase.
• Taxes – 60 percent of Independents believe their taxes will increase.
• Federal Deficit – 64 percent of Independents believe the health care law will increase the deficit.
• Quality of Care – by 2-to-1 Independents are more likely to say the health care law will decrease (29 percent) rather than increase (15 percent) their quality of care (45 percent say no effect).
The full memo can be found at ResurgentRepublic.com. This excerpt is reprinted with the permission of Resurgent Republic.