Will Mitt Romney Negate the GOP's Advantage on ObamaCare?

A new poll shows  President Obama and his rival Mitt Romney virtually tied on health care issues. The poll of likely voters, conducted by Politico and Washington University, shows that President Obama has a small edge on Mitt Romney, with 48 percent ranking Obama better on health care issues versus 45 percent for Romney. That's within the margin of error, however, and Romney has a razor thin overall lead, with 48 percent of voters saying they would pick the former Massachusetts governor and 47 percent favoring Obama.

Politico provides analysis of the poll from both Republicans and Democrats, and it's about what you'd expect from a survey showing such close results. The Republican analysts happily declare that the GOP has united around Romney and warn that "there are warning signs throughout the data for President Obama that would be significant for any incumbent President," while the Democrats insist that "the President's personal popularity is unparelleled." Good news for everyone, right?

Or maybe it's not-so-great news for both, especially on health care. And if anything, on that front, it's probably worse for Romney. Granted, it shows once again that President Obama has not yet been able to seal the deal on his signature piece of legislation. No, it's not a great success. But given the consistently dismal poll results surrounding the law, a slight lead, even within the margin of error, is actually a decent showing relative to other polls on the issue. 

That's not the case for Romney. What this poll shows is that the former governor has not been able to press what would seem to be the Republican party's natural advantage on health care. In the two years since ObamaCare's passage, polls have consistently shown the law to be subbornly unpopular. About two thirds of the public opposes the individual mandate to purchase health insurance. Roughly half say they want to see the entire law repealed. Yet on health issues, Romney, the candidate who says he wants to repeal the most significant health law in decades, is trailing Obama, the president who passed it. At this point in the election pre-season, the Republican candidate ought to have a lead over Obama on health care issues. But Romney's starting a position of weakness. 

This is exactly what many warned would happen should Romney, whose Massachusetts health plan served as the model for Obama's law, become the nominee. In recent weeks a number of Democrats have warned that the health law may be a liability for the party in November. But thanks to Mitt Romney, it may not be a liability that Republicans can use to their advantage. 

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  • ||

    Those polls need to get to the heart of the matter:

    Which candidate would do a better job of picking your clothes in the morning?

    Which candidate would make the tastiest peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch?

    Which candidate would do a better job of tucking you into bed at night?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    CAPTION!

    "Hey, Mitt! How's that burrito goin' down?"

  • Robert||

    It's all part of the central exercise in politics: finding the exact center, occupying it 1st, and thereby making the other guys lie a hair to one side or the other of it so as not to seem like copycats.

  • ||

    It's like that question about where to place your hot dog stand on a long stretch of beach to maximize sales. Right in the middle! And if someone else puts theirs right in the middle, where do you put yours? Right next to theirs!

  • freeAgent||

    I think these polls really show that the supermajority of Americans (93%) are idiots. Obama and Romney are indistinguishable when it comes to health care.

  • Tulpa the White||

    So you're not a big constitutionality person.

  • Tulpa the White||

    Romney, whose Massachusetts health plan served as the model for Obama's law

    Suderman, are you ever going to justify this line or are you going to just keep repeating it? The "model" for Obamacare (and MassCare) was floating around back when Romney was working at Bain Capital.

    I know it's hard to fact-check yourself when there are so many anti-Romney partisans around here who coo with delight whenever you rip him, justly or not, but really it is your responsibility as a journalist.

  • han||

    A very good article.

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