A new national survey from Public Policy Polling (D) suggests that Democrats are now between a rock and a hard place when it comes to health care reform. Whether they pass it or not, they would still trail the Republicans in a generic ballot test — though it’s possible that passing the bill could be the better path.
In an initial generic ballot, the Republicans led with 43% to the Democrats’ 40%, with a Â±4.1% margin of error. The poll then asked: “If the Democrats don’t pass their health care bill will you vote Democratic or Republican for Congress this fall?” The result here is Republicans 43%, Democrats 38%.
A follow-up question asked: “If the Democrats pass their health care bill will you vote Democratic or Republican for Congress this fall?” The result here becomes Republicans 45%, Democrats 41%. The margins among Republican and Democratic base voters remain nearly the same in the two scenarios, with independents shifting from 40%-26% Republican in the no-bill scenario to 42%-34% in the bill-passing hypothetical.Nevertheless, PPP communications director Tom Jensen makes the case that the better position for Democrats is to pass the bill — that something will be better than nothing, even if it doesn’t work out that way immediately:
Here’s the bottom line on health care at this point: the political damage for Democrats has been done. It doesn’t matter whether it actually passes- it has had the effect of getting Republican voters really fired up and along with the economy continuing to struggle it has turned independents toward the GOP as well. Those voters aren’t going to come back at this point because health care doesn’t pass. Would Democrats be in a better position right now if they hadn’t even touched the issue? Probably. But what’s the point of being in power if you don’t deal with things like health care?
Democrats are primed to have a brutal election year right now. It might be nice if they actually had something to show for it. And as many smart people have argued, if health care reform passes and proves to be a success it may well be that while it’s a short term political liability for the party, in the long run it’s a winner in the vein of Social Security or Medicare.