Roughly a quarter of Americans actually think the new health care law has already been repealed, according to the latest poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation:
In the wake of the health reform repeal vote in the U.S. House and the ongoing legal challenges over the individual mandate, nearly half the country either believes that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been repealed and is no longer law (22 percent) or doesn’t know enough to say whether it is still law (26 percent). Roughly half of Americans (52 percent) accurately report that the ACA is still the law of the land.
Because the new health care law provides almost no one any tangible benefits for years, I thought the best case mid-term political scenario for Democrats was that people would continue to dislike it, but, without the law actually doing anything, it would stop being a top issue for voters.
I never guessed that the Republicans’ over-the-top repeal theatrics, combined with that fact that the law does almost nothing until 2014, would actually result in a large part of the electorate thinking the law has already been repealed.
This begs a new serious question though: can Republicans successfully exploit voters anger about the health care law in 2012 like they did in 2010 if large parts of the electorate thinks the law is already gone?
Given that the law is, on net, viewed unfavorably by voters, Democrats may ironically benefit politically from this confusion in the next election. It is tough to imagine how, in 2012, Republicans manage to motivate voter anger about a law that passed two years ago, when a large number of voters think it has been repealed for over a year. It could be that Democrats’ saving grace on this issue won’t be their PR campaign to convince voters to like the law, but simple voter ignorance.
The individual mandate is still incredibly toxic
Another note from the poll is that the Democratic establishment needs to come to terms with that fact that the individual mandate is politically toxic and needs to be dealt with using an alternative. Even among Democrats and supporters of the law, a majority wants to see it repealed.