The Democrats made a strategic choice to pass health reform even though they knew it did not have majority support. They assumed passage would generate a positive initial response from the media which it did. They also hoped that, with time, voters would see reform in a more favorable light, and that health care would not pose an issue in the midterm elections. Were the Democrats right? If our polling is correct, they were not.
In January, we asked voters in 11 states that could have competitive Senate races in November, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania, how they felt about health reform and how they were likely to vote. The polls were conducted by YouGov using a panel of Internet users selected to represent registered voters in each state. We found widespread opposition to reform and to the Democratic senators who voted in favor of it.
Last month, we went back to the same voters and asked the same questions. We found that public opinion about health reform is roughly stable, and opposition to reform appears to be an important determinant of voting intention in the midterm elections, particularly for political independents. In January, a majority in each of the 11 states opposed health reform. Not surprisingly, public opinion was more favorable in the more liberal states. Voters in Connecticut opposed reform by a margin of 55% to 45%, whereas voters in Louisiana opposed reform 63% to 37%. In key battleground states like Colorado and Ohio, voters opposed reform 58% to 42%.