The Insiders: Obamacare shifts voters’ thinking

A Gallup poll released the other day says 56 percent of Americans do not believe it is Washington’s responsibility to “make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage,” while 42 percent believe the federal government is responsible.  Two years ago, it was a different story.  The same poll conducted by Gallup in 2011 showed that 46 percent of Americans believed the federal government was not responsible for making sure all Americans have healthcare coverage, and 50 percent said the federal government was responsible.

This poll is better news for Republicans than just about any poll I’ve seen in a while.  This poll represents a psychological shift that favors Republicans.  It is good news for Republicans that a Democratic president has created such a colossal failure.  Let’s face it, if voters want to vote themselves more free stuff from Washington, they are more likely to vote for Democrats. The president and his Democratic allies are getting a rude awakening to the realities of what government can and cannot do, and a timely reminder of the political consequences of overpromising and underdelivering.

I fear the Republican Party being labeled as the “party of no,” but thanks to the failure of Obamacare, the idea that benefits from Washington are free and easy has been contaminated.  No one knows what the half-life of this will be, but it has certainly changed the game for a while.  As Americans continue to deal with canceled plans and higher premiums and deductibles, their personal experiences and the horror stories they hear from family and friends reinforce their worst cynicism about Washington’s ability to deliver and all politicians’ promises.  He who promises the most doesn’t necessarily have the advantage — at least for the time being.

Polls will come and go, and I probably put less stock in any poll this many months away from an election than some other commentators. I also caution that even these poll results could change quickly.  But the political reality that Americans expect the best health care in the world and they pretty much want it for free has been altered.  No one believes that will actually happen, and anyone who suggests otherwise will be punished at the ballot box.

At the risk of gloating over more polling today, the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that 39 percent of voters say that “if a candidate for Congress supports the law [Obamacare], they would be more likely to oppose them.”  And just 23 percent say they would be more likely to support a candidate who supports Obamacare.  The political poison of Obamacare is spreading down the Democratic ballot.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: In politics, bad gets worse.