Jonathan Chait

Public Concern Over Health Care Reform: Not Ideological

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Republican pollster David Winston offers some pretty interesting insight into public discontent with the Affordable Care Act:

"Are [voters] unhappy with the health-care plan? Sure," said Republican strategist David Winston. "But they're more unhappy with the unemployment rate. The key thing is to make sure it's clear in their minds how it's related."

Moreover, Republicans had lambasted Democrats during the last campaign, with some effectiveness, for focusing on health care rather than on jobs and the economy. ...

They formally titled their bill "The Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act," and they almost invariably call the health law "job-destroying" or "job-crushing."

This offers a good window into public opinion. Republicans have been casting public opinion as overwhelmingly pro-repeal, which is simply not the case (the latest poll even shows the public opposing repeal by a 40-48 margin -- that's an outlier, but more evidence that the public is split.)

What's more, Republicans have been casting the opposition that does exist as motivated by ideological opposition to big government. In fact, as Winston acknowledges and the GOP's actual behavior reveals, it's a backlash rooted in poor economic conditions. One corollary is that, if and when the economy improves, public support for repeal will drop even more.

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