Democrats Are Learning The Wrong Lesson From The Massachusetts Election

Senator-elect Scott Brown (R-MA)A new poll finds that when Americans shift through the misinformation and politics of health care reform, they actually like what they see. According to January’s Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, conducted before the Massachusetts Senate vote, 42% support health care reform, while 41% oppose it. “However, a different and more positive picture emerged when we examined the public’s awareness of, and reactions to, major provisions included in the bills. Majorities reported feeling more favorable toward the proposed legislation after learning about many of the key elements, with the notable exceptions of the individual mandate and the overall price tag.” Some elements of the legislation “were popular enough to prompt a majority of skeptics to soften their opposition“:

– 62% of current opponents said including the tax credits for small businesses made them supportive of reform.

– 59% of current opponents said the fact that most people’s existing insurance arrangements would not change made them more supportive of reform.

– 55% of current opponents said if there was a stipulation that no federal money would go to abortion they would be more supportive of reform.

The poll also found that 17 of 27 different provisions made respondents feel more positively about the bills, including the exchanges, the new insurance regulations, and closing the Medicare “doughnut hole.” All this suggests that the public is fed up with the process and politics of health care reform, but they’re supportive of what Democrats are actually trying to accomplish. Which brings us back to the argument that Democrats are seriously misreading the Massachusetts election results.

On Tuesday, Massachusetts voters elected a Republican candidate who defended a reform bill that’s very similar to what the House and Senate Democrats have supported. Far from suggesting that health care reform would lose elections, the Massachusetts results actually suggest that when Americans see the benefit of health care reform, they tend to politically reward the candidate who vows to protect it.