Top Dem Pollster: Pass Health Care Or Face 2010 ‘Disaster’

January 21, 2010 7:53 a.m.

A top Democratic pollster said today if Congress fails to pass health care it will be a “disaster” this fall.

Celinda Lake, who most recently served as the pollster for Attorney General Martha Coakley’s losing campaign in Massachusetts, said there is deep frustration with Washington but moving away from health care would be the worst decision.

“We can’t talk about it for a year and deliver nothing, that would be a disaster,” Lake said. “We should pass it and then we have to go sell it. We have to tell people what is in it.”Lake made her comments during a panel on Obama’s first year in office hosted by the American University College of Law this morning. I also was a panelist at the event, which will be podcast in full later today.

She said the biggest problem related to health care in the Massachusetts race was that voters didn’t understand the measure being debated in Washington.

“Voters had no idea what was in it,” Lake said, and therefore rated it poorly in polls. But when her team polled on specific elements of the bill voters rated them highly.

Lake was asked by a student questioner if she’d do one thing differently in the race. Her answer shocked the political reporters in the room – she would have done a daily tracking poll that would have let her know earlier that the race was so close.

Before Coakley was defeated, Lake told reporters the campaign didn’t have the money for polls. Some Democrats blamed her in part for the loss.

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