Advocates of limited government have been playing defense for so long that they seem to have a hard time believing they might actually be winning a public debate. After years of playing for moral victories or embracing strategic defeats, many seem more inclined to look a gift horse in the mouth than to believe they can ride it down the front stretch, across the finish line, and into the winner’s circle.
How else to account for the fact that, on the heels of the greatest Republican swing in the House since 1938 — despite exit polls showing that voters blamed the sluggish economy more on President Bush than on President Obama — many opponents of ObamaCare actually continue to doubt whether its repeal is “realistic.”
Such an attitude stems largely from an ingrained, misplaced pessimism about the persuasiveness of the case and the reasonableness of the American people. But it also stems in part from some confusion over the polling on ObamaCare — confusion perpetuated by the White House. Opponents of ObamaCare wonder which is right: the exit polls showing about 50 percent of Americans favoring repeal, or the Rasmussen polls showing about 60 percent?
The answer is both. In each case, Americans favor repeal by a margin of 15 to 20 percentage points over any other option. The exit polling gave three options for what to do with ObamaCare: “Repeal it” (48 percent of voters picked this), “Leave it as is” (16 percent), or “Expand it” (31 percent). Rasmussen gives only two, while also allowing respondents to say whether their preference is “Strongly” or only “Somewhat” felt: “Favor” repeal (57 percent across its eight post-election polls) or “Oppose” repeal (38 percent).
When Americans are given two options for dealing with ObamaCare, repeal beats the alternative by 15 to 20 points. When they’re given three options, repeal beats the most popular of the alternatives by 15 to 20 points. Either way, the result is the same: repeal in a landslide.
It’s important to note that the three options provided by the exit polls are mutually exclusive. President Obama has tried to add two of the three together to mask the embarrassing fact that only one in six Americans likes his signature legislation as written. But you can’t expand ObamaCare and leave it alone at the same time. Nor can you repeal it while expanding it, or leave it alone while repealing it. Any of these options is like having your cake and eating it too — or like looting Medicare to fund ObamaCare while claiming that this same money will also be used to extend the life of Medicare (as this administration has shamelessly done).
ObamaCare’s opponents should rest assured that they not only have the bulk of public opinion on their side, but also the intensity of public opinion. Far more people vehemently oppose ObamaCare than vehemently support it. The November Kaiser Health Tracking Poll showed that, among “health care voters” — defined as those who “named health care or health care reform as one of the top two factors in deciding their vote for Congress” — 56 percent have a “very unfavorable” opinion of ObamaCare while only a meager 13 percent have a “very favorable” opinion of it. That’s an intensity gap of more than four-to-one.