Wednesday, January 20, 2010

And Lastly

Surveys confirm that this is how (yes, completely misinformed) voters feel about health reform.

A remarkable poll confirms that yesterday's result was all about healthcare reform. When asked what the most important issue in determining their vote was, 48% of MA voters named healthcare. The second most important issue, the economy, polled just 5%. I would bet anyone reading this that never in the history of exit polls and post-election polls has there ever before been such a massive split between the first and second most important issue in an election. Usually you see a lot of numbers clustered in the tens and twenties. Not so yesterday. Moving on, just 3% of the electorate said the most important issue in deciding their vote was disliking Coakley or liking Brown, and only 5% described their vote as a vote against Coakley. This in spite of the fact that many pundits have tried to blame last night's result on Coakley not knowing who Curt Schilling was. Nor was this about the sucky jobs situation. When asked if there was a second most important issue to their vote, a full only11% said the economy was their first or second most important issue. 62% said healthcare was. When asked whether their vote was cast to stop Obama's healthcare plan, help it get passed, or whether they didn't vote on that basis at all, 42% of respondents said they voted to stop Obama's plan. Brown won with 52% of the vote. Therefore, about 80% of his voters voted for him, in part, to stop Obama's plan. Insane. 51% of independents, and even 17% of Democrats said they voted to stop Obama's plan. On the other hand, only 53% of Democrats said they voted to help it get passed. 27% of them said they didn't vote on that basis at all. Contrast this to the Republican breakdown, where 77% said they voted to stop the plan, just TWO percent said they voted to get it passed, and 17% voted for other reasons. One party's voters are united in opposition to the plan, the other party's voters are split and apathetic about the plan.

On the other hand, if you look at Obama's policies in general in this poll, they're not nearly as unpopular as healthcare - even though healthcare is included among those policies. Only 38% said they voted in opposition to his policies. 27% said that Obama's policies weren't a factor in their vote. 44% of independents said they voted against them, as opposed to the 51% that said they voted against healthcare. While only 41% say they like the healthcare plan, 55% approve of the job Obama's doing. 59% say they have a favorable image of Obama. 55%, of course, is substantially higher than Obama's numbers nationwide, which speaks to what a Democratic state MA is. And Obama the person is quite a bit more popular than Obama's policies. Nevertheless, there's a road to electoral respectability here if the Democrats jettison healthcare and are judged on November on the basis of their other policy goals, which are unpopular but not as unpopular as healthcare. Once you get out of MA, where Democrats have an enormous majority, the margins are going to get even worse if the Democrats insist on pushing this through. Consider these numbers from the poll. Republicans oppose reform 92 to 2. Democrats support it 69 to 21. Independents oppose it 63 to 32. Now consider that only 13% of respondents identified themselves as Republicans. In a state with an actual functioning Republican party, that 92 to 2 bloc will be huge and health reform - currently by far the single biggest issue in American politics - will be opposed by substantially larger margins than the one that brought down Coakley. Meaning that, with the passage of health reform, very few Democrats would be safe.

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