JONATHAN CHAIT MARCH 5, 2010
Can health care reform become a decent issue for Democrats? Nate Silver points out that, contrary to the conservative rhetoric about the public turning ever more sour on reform the more they hear about it, public opinion has held constant since November:
It's also worth keeping in mind that a very large share of people who oppose health care reform think the Democratic bills don't go far enough. For instance, this recent Ipsos-McClatchy poll found that 37% of opponents of reform say the current bills "don't go far enough to reform health care." Other polls have shown even larger results.
Now, I wouldn't say that all, or even most, of those people are ripe to be added to the support column. But if just one-tenth of reform opponents could be brought around by a signing ceremony, some "What does reform mean for you?" coverage, and a show of Democratic unity, then suddenly you have a majority proposition.
A landscape where Democrats are all defending the bill, instead of wrangling in Congress and complaining about its shortcomings to maximize their leverage, could do a lot to solidify support among Americans who favor major reform. Alternatively, failure to pass the bill will cause everybody to disown it (It was too big! No, it was too soft on the insurers!), approval to drop even further, and everybody in Congress who voted for it the first time to suffer even more politically.