Obama’s Health Reform Popularity Bind, Cntd.

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The Kaiser Family Foundation is out with its latest check-up on public opinion of the Affordable Care Act, Democrats’ 2010 health reform overhaul. There hasn’t been a major change in the law’s popularity since last month, but I think two legal developments make revisiting the tracking poll worthwhile. Here’s what we know now know: The Supreme Court will definitely weigh the ACA’s constitutionality at the height of next year’s presidential race, and another influential conservative jurist at the appellate level has upheld the law, convincing many that the law will survive the high court.

These things are hard to predict and there’s still a chance the law could be overturned or a decision could be delayed until 2014. But the political implications of a Supreme Court victory for the White House, while certainly a boon for President Obama’s legacy, could work against him in the short term. Here’s the relevant chart from Kaiser:

Republicans are much more energized in their distaste for the law–57% say they have a “very unfavorable” opinion–than Democrats, 33% of whom have a “very favorable” opinion, are in their approval. A Supreme Court decision upholding the ACA mid-campaign could serve to juice turnout for Obama’s opponent, who, by the looks of things, will definitely need it.

One caveat to this (and all polling on public policy really) is that people still don’t know a whole lot about what’s in the ACA–a majority incorrectly believe the public option made it in–and the law seems to be serving as a proxy for general anti-Washington sentiment. Good on Kaiser for asking this question:

Of course, negative feelings about “the direction of the country” and “what’s going on in Washington right now” aren’t often good news for an incumbent President facing re-election either.

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