All along a chief Republican argument against the health care reform bill was that the American electorate opposed it. Republicans were confident that public outrage against it would lead to a GOP takeover of Congress and even the possibility of repeal.
There were always three problems with this argument:
1) Some of that opposition came from the left. Those voters might stay home but they were never going to vote Republican.
2) Some of that opposition was based on confusion and misinformation. There’s no way to know how much of the opposition was based on this but polls tended to show over 50% of voters just did not know what was in the bill. The stories all over the news these days detail what exactly the bill includes and what it will do for individuals, families and businesses. I suspect that many folks will come to support the bill when they find out that Armageddon is not here.
3) Eight months is a long time and the public will be thinking about the economy more than health care in November. This is a double-edged sword, of course; if the economy is still stagnant then even a positive turn on health care support will do little to help the Democrats. But it does mean that calls for repeal are not likely to sustain themselves.
Still, the calculation from Republicans all along was that united opposition could either kill the Democratic health reform effort or use public outrage to lead to a Republican takeover of Congress.
And now we see the first signs of that miscalculation. According to a just-released USA Today poll, a sizable plurality of voters now support the health reform law. Polling on health care reform was negative until now.
Whether this shift in public opinion is replicated elsewhere or holds up over time is impossible to know. But the first indications suggest that David Frum was right: total opposition to the Democratic health care reform bill will be a Republican Waterloo.