The PJ Tatler

Do Most Americans Really Want to Just 'Move On' After SCOTUS Upheld ObamaTax? (Updated)

ABC headlines a banner story today, “Poll: Most Want Obamacare Opponents to Move On.” ABC bases its story on a Kaiser Foundation poll that hit the web today, and quotes the following:

Now that the Supreme Court has upheld President Obama’s health-reform law, one new poll suggests most people want the law’s opponents to drop their repeal efforts and move on to other problems. Another poll suggests the public is as divided by the law as ever.

In the latest survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 56 percent of respondents said they prefer Obamacare opponents “stop their efforts to block the law and move on to other national problems,” while 38 percent said they prefer those opponents “continue trying to block the law from being implemented.”

Fifty-six percent, that seems like a strong number. It’s about the same percentage as overall Americans who opposed ObamaCare when it was passed and more than the post-decision number who oppose it now. But looking under the hood of the poll, a different picture emerges. Kaiser’s poll finds that Democrats, obviously, want to move on by a heavy margin. But Republicans do not, and in fact the ObamaCare decision is more likely to bring nearly a third of them out to vote in November. A similar number, about 27%, of independents who lean Republican also say that the decision is more likely to motivate them to vote in November.

ABC’s headline on the Kaiser poll obscures the fact that most of the “move on” energy is coming from the left. The reason for that is obvious: Democrat want to keep the ground they’ve gained and don’t want their party pinned for passing a huge new tax that President Obama promised not to pass. In the middle and on the right, there is substantial energy to get the bill repealed. If Republicans want to turn out their base in November, the Kaiser poll suggests that backing down from repealing ObamaTax would be a huge mistake. Additionally, with just 59% polled aware that the court even upheld the law, there is room to grow the opposition by using the court’s decision to argue that ObamaCare is a massive tax, and that the Democrats pitched it and passed it dishonestly, and that it constitutes a broken Obama promise.

ABC also fails to report a glaring problem with the Kaiser Family Foundation’s poll: It does not describe its partisan breakdown. Without knowing that, we cannot assess whether the pollsters oversampled or undersampled Republicans and Democrats. Partisan breakdown is the key to understanding a poll’s reliability; if a pollster grabbed 5% more Democrats than there are in the wild, the poll’s numbers will reflect that and will not tell us what the actual voting public thinks. Kaiser, for whatever reason, does not describe its partisan breakdown in this poll. So as such, it’s valid to question whether its poll is reliable at all.

The one thing that this poll can say reliably is that Democrats now support ObamaCare more strongly, and Republicans oppose it more strongly. Both bases are paying intense attention and dividing predictably. With independents divided on the law, there is room for both parties to make their case. With the court having ruled the individual mandate a tax, Republicans should have had an easy case to make against the law. But the Romney campaign may have blown that opportunity entirely on Monday.

More: Kaiser made it difficult to get to its partisan breakdown, but here it is. Kaiser oversampled Democrats. Kaiser’s breakdown is below; nationally, Pew says that party ID is much tighter than the 11-point gap that Kaiser weighted. HuffPo averages a large sample of polls and also finds a tighter partisan breakdown than Kaiser.

Update: This CNN/ORC poll (no partisan breakdown given) finds that 51% still want ObamaCare repealed in full.