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Political Insiders Poll

What will the political ramifications be if the Supreme Court strikes down all or part of the president’s health care law?

Democrats (101 votes)

Big win for Republicans: 34%
Small win for Republicans: 31%
Neither party gains: 16%
Small win for Democrats: 11%
Big win for Democrats: 9%


Big win for Republicans

“There’s nothing like ‘It’s unconstitutional’ for a talking point.”

“I think it is devastating to the administration and to perceptions of President Obama’s leadership. It would validate concerns that he is not governing from the center.”


“If the Court strikes the entire law, it will invalidate the signature achievement of the Obama administration. It may incite a backlash among supporters, but that will not be enough to make up for the loss of the law.”

Small win for Republicans

“Most of this issue has played out long ago, particularly in the 2010 cycle. It’s a GOP talking point, not a game change.”

“The devil is really in the details—for both the Democrats and the Republicans. How far does the Court go?”


“Republicans will have won bragging rights, and that certainly counts for something.”

“Don’t kid yourself—there’s no way you can put a smiley face on a loss.”

Neither party gains

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“GOP win would translate to loss for millions of Americans deprived of adequate health care. It reopens the whole raucous debate.”

“It all depends on the spin. I hope the administration does better with a do-over.”

Small win for Democrats

“It will fire up the Democratic base, but it probably won’t move the needle with independents all that much one way or the other.”

Big win for Democrats

“It will galvanize the Democratic base to run against the Republican Court and Republican Congress.”


What will the political ramifications be if the Supreme Court strikes down all or part of the president’s health care law?

Republicans (101 votes)

Big win for Republicans: 55%
Small win for Republicans: 29%
Neither party gains: 9%
Small win for Democrats: 5%
Big win for Democrats: 3%

Big win for Republicans

“Win this one and everyone will see the emperor has no clothes. But the GOP needs a positive plan on health care—this issue isn’t going away.”

“A negative Supreme Court decision undercuts the Obama’s administration’s signature legislative achievement and reinforces the GOP narrative of a president in over his head.”

“Issue would remain polarizing, but independents would have credible reason to remain opposed to this administration’s addiction to government overreach.”

“Would enflame the Left against the high court but confirm for everyone else the recklessness and lack of judgment that went into the president’s manic push for the legislation.”

“His signature legislative achievement is found unconstitutional? I’d say that’s a setback.”

Small win for Republicans

“We get to say, ‘I told you so,’ but we lose a major issue for the fall.”

“If we are smart, it will be a defeat for Democrats and we won’t take credit or dance on the grave but instead will have an immediate alternative—if we are smart.”

“It will reinforce the public’s already negative view of Obama’s signature initiative, but don’t dismiss his willingness to try and seize the issue anew and reframe it.”

Neither party gains

“Helps both parties energize their base. Does not move indie voters who are preoccupied with jobs and job security.”

“Republicans will have proven their point, but the president can start campaigning on the issue all over again: There is still a demand for health care reform among the voters.”

Small win for Democrats

“It removes a millstone from their necks. Lots of Democrats secretly rooting for the Court to solve this problem for them.”


How well can Mitt Romney use the health care law to attack the president

Democrats (101 votes)

Very effectively: 1%
Effectively: 5%
Ineffectively: 48%
Very ineffectively: 47%


“Obama just has to repeatedly show the picture of Teddy standing over Mitt at the Massachusetts signing ceremony.”

“There is an entire library of killer video of Romney on his support for the individual mandate that will be in ads in every swing state.”

This article appears in the March 31, 2012 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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