The right is apparently worked up today about a "poll" conducted by "a non-partisan association of doctors and patients" that found 83% of American doctors have considered quitting practicing medicine altogether because of the Affordable Care Act. The results, such as they are, were published by something called the Doctor Patient Medical Association.
The problem is, the survey is ... how do I put this gently ... quite stupid. Drudge, Fox News, the Daily Caller, Townhall, and RedState may be excited about the results, but everything about this little press stunt -- from the wording of the question to the methodology to the folks who paid for it -- is, as Simon Maloy put it, "comically awful."
More interesting, however, is a legitimate poll from the Washington Post/ABC News, which asked respondents, "[O]verall, do you support or oppose the federal law making changes to the health care system?" I put together a chart showing how much the results changed in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling.
In April, before the decision, 39% expressed support for the Affordable Care Act, while a 53% majority disapproved of the law. Now, support has gone up eight points, but opposition has gone down six points.
When House Republicans vote for the 31st time tomorrow to kill the entirety of the law -- that's literally the number, not a figure exaggerated for humor -- they'll no doubt give a lot of speeches boasting that "the American people" are on their side. But public attitudes are far more complex than the right chooses to believe -- support for the law has gone up and the provisions within the law remain quite popular. Less than a third of the country actually likes the Republican proposal to scrap every letter of the law.
Indeed, while there's little doubt the 31st House vote on repealing the health care law will go exactly the same way as the first 30 House votes -- it's going to pass -- it's been interesting to watch the ground shift a bit in the wake of the high court ruling. Republicans still hate the law, of course, but the bigger picture has become more complicated.
For one thing, many of the lawmakers themselves are taking advantage of the law's benefits to help their families, which makes it tougher for the same lawmakers to take those same benefits away from the rest of us.
For another, Republicans are finding that their worst fears are coming true: some of their constituents actually like "Obamacare" benefits and don't want to see them disappear. The New York Times went so far as to report yesterday that "cracks" are starting to appear in the GOP's formerly-united front on this issue.
Greg Sargent added that some Democrats are even ready to go on the offensive over health care for the first time in a long while.
In North Dakota, where Dem Heidi Heitkamp ran ads hitting her GOP opponent, Rep. Rick Berg, for supporting repeal, Berg suddenly came out for individual provisions within Obamacare, such as the ban on discrimination against people with preexisting conditions. Freshman GOP Rep. Frank Guinta of New Hampshire responded to the Supreme Court ruling by claiming he was ready to work with Democrats to amend the law, rather than blow it up. GOP Rep. Charlie Bass, while still backing repeal, has come out in support of some of the law's provisions.And the Times story reports that Republican consultants are privately uncertain what repeal gets them. Base voters are already energized against Obama, but the Times says those consultants are wondering how a "rehashing of the health care debate will affect independent voters."
This isn't to say the Affordable Care Act is suddenly popular; it's not. But the politics surrounding the law are clearly different than they were just a few months ago, and for the GOP, the developments aren't encouraging.