Politico has obtained and published a confidential messaging-strategy presentation that essentially admits ObamaCare supporters are losing the battle for public opinion. The presentation was delivered to professional leftists by the left-wing Herndon Alliance, based on public opinion research by Democratic pollsters John Anzalone, Celinda Lake, and Stan Greenberg, in a forum organized by the left-wing group Families USA, “one of the central groups in the push for the initial legislation.” It is a stark admission that the public has not warmed to the new health care law, despite predictions that they would do so.
Here’s how Politico describes the presentation and its implications:
Key White House allies are dramatically shifting their attempts to defend health care legislation, abandoning claims that it will reduce costs and deficit, and instead stressing a promise to “improve it.”
…The confidential presentation … suggests that Democrats are acknowledging the failure of their predictions that the health care legislation would grow more popular after its passage, as its benefits became clear and rhetoric cooled. Instead, the presentation is designed to win over a skeptical public, and to defend the legislation — and in particular the individual mandate — from a push for repeal…
The presentation concedes that groups typically supportive of Democratic causes — people under 40, non-college educated women, and Hispanic voters — have not been won over by the plan. Indeed, it stresses repeatedly, many are unaware that the legislation has passed, an astonishing shortcoming in the White House’s all-out communications effort.
“Straightforward ‘policy’ defenses fail to [move] voters’ opinions about the law,” says one slide. “Women in particular are concerned that health care law will mean less provider availability – scarcity an issue.”
The presentation also concedes that the fiscal and economic arguments that were the White House’s first and most aggressive sales pitch have essentially failed.
“Many don’t believe health care reform will help the economy,” says one slide.
The presentation’s final page of “Don’ts” counsels against claiming “the law will reduce costs and deficit.”
Reason magazine’s Peter Suderman notes that ObamaCare supporters are “backing down from core arguments about cost and deficit reductions in the new health care law… It’s a frank admission that the economic argument in favor of the law has basically failed amongst voters.”
These revelations come at the same time a CNN/Opinion Research poll shows ObamaCare’s individual mandate is increasingly unpopular. Politico reports:
Just 44 percent favor the health care mandate… Fifty-six percent oppose the mandate, up 3 percentage points from when the bill passed.
Americans still support ObamaCare’s price controls — which force insurance companies to over-charge the healthy and under-charge the sick — by 58-42 percent. But as President Obama has himself acknowledged, those price controls don’t work without the individual mandate. Unless a majority also supports the mandate, you don’t have majority support for either.
The Washington Examiner’s David Freddoso speculates there is “abject panic at the White House” over the unpopularity of ObamaCare.