So Much for That Health Care "Bounce"

There was some talk among Democratic operatives that there would be a "health care bounce" after the reform bill was passed. The idea was that, once it became law and the media stopped talking about the day-to-day political fighting over the issue, opinions about the law would improve. Well, the operatives' talk was just that--polling indicates that there was no bounce.

Looking at several firms that polled before the law was passed and several weeks afterward, we see effectively no improvement in popular support for the legislation.

Before PassageAfter Passage
PPP 3/12-144549PPP 4/9-114550
YouGov 3/13-164853YouGov 4/10-135149
Fox 3/16-173555Fox 4/6-73954
AP 3/3-84143AP 4/7-123950
Gallup 3/4-74548Gallup* 4/8-114549

*notes some of the question varied slightly between the before passage and after passage poll.

The AP poll is an outlier, showing significantly increase in opposition. Similarly, a Gallup poll taken literally right after the bill passed the House showed a temporary spike in support, but, for the most part, popular support for the health care act seems basically unchanged by its being signed into law.

I don't know if this is really surprising. The health care debate went on for a very long time and had a lot of media focus. It seems most people already developed firm opinions about it months ago and the passage did not change what a majority of people thought about the new law.

Since the bill does not really go into effect for years, it seems unlikely a significant number of people's opinions about the bill will change one way or the other. Something that might have happened if the state-based exchange and Medicaid expansion started right away, resulting in millions of additional Americans getting insurance coverage.

Clearly, there was not a big health care bounce, or any at all, as a result of passage. Democrats will probably be going into November with the country evenly divided or slightly opposed to the new health care law that they passed. I do suspect, though, that what is more likely to affect Democrats in November is less what people think about the new law and more about how much they are thinking about it. There are eight months until the election. We have a financial regulation and reform law that will have to be dealt with, we are still involved in two foreign wars, and voters still face incredibly high unemployment. There are many other issues which could and possibly will supplant health care as the dominate issue in the midterm.

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