Friday, June 29, 2012

The Aftermath: After The SCOTUS ACA Ruling

I'd posted lightly (and some of my posts were not on Facebook) because, well, not too much was happening in presidential politics. As I'd said, the game is in the margins. The question is not "who will be persuaded" but more "who can turn out their people the best?"

And then there's some persuading right there in the middle.

But that may have changed yesterday.

As we head towards July Obama is enjoying an uptick in the two models I track: RealClearPolitics (Obama 221 Electoral) and FiveThirtyEight's (293 Electoral) predictions. The thing to watch here is how these polls move in the next polling cycle.

Not Much
One set of thinking is that Obama's Approval rating has "ObamaCare priced into it." If this is so then other than motivating the base (which base? Yes.) it doesn't do much. Really, as I said, the issue here is not likely to be one of persuasion but one of ground game--the Get Out The Vote machine both parties are going to need to crank.

If the polls don't move much, this model is favored. I believe this is the most likely result.

Obama Soars
On the other hand if Obama gets a big boost then it could mean a few things. The first would be that, although unlikely, everyone said they didn't like O-Care but when they thought it was gone, Senior Citizens and college kids on their parent's insurance suddenly went "Hey--we kinda did like it!"

I don't buy that.

If Obama soars I think it means "everyone likes a winner." I'll discuss that more in a moment. I would expect a large bounce to be temporary at best--but who knows.

I believe this is the least likely result.

Romney Soars
If Romney's stock goes up, though, it means that people who didn't like ObamaCare now see him (correctly) as the only vehicle to get rid of it. His "making the election about this" would then make sense. As O-Care is unpopular I'll say this is the next most likely.

The Problem
The problem for Team Romney is that the optics on this have been pretty bad from the Republican side. I tweeted some of the chatter and some of the funnier memes--but the humor aside the discussion has, again, taken on a 'revolutionary' flavor. The response to a Supreme Court decision they don't like is ... revolt? I've seen blogular suggestions that people impeach Roberts (even while Romney's campaign page says he'll appoint more judges like him--I wonder if that's still up there!) and possibly move to Texas when it succeeds.

I don't think the problem is that of the Tea Party going ... to Canada? It think the problem is the mode of blowing off steam is what turned off people to the Tea Party in the first place. With blogs howling about the end of the republic and bloggers declaring this the final straw before giving up on the GOP I think it's clear that this has hit conservatives harder than Wisconsin hit liberals (and, to be fair, it's a much harder hit).

So Romney will have a choice: does he set his hair on fire for this? Or does he play the middle game he's been so good at. This is reflected as: is the election about ObamaCare? Or is it about The Economy.

Now, you say: "They are inextricably linked--ObamaCare is destroying the economy." That may be so--but you, blog-reader, were already voting for Romney (or the Constitution Party or something). If the debate shifts from dismal unemployment numbers to how DAY 1 IS ALL ABOUT O-CARE the swing-voters may decide they're being asked to vote for a repeal bill, not a president. That, I don't think, is an election winner.

I also want to say that no matter how badly O-Care polls, I think it's dangerous to assume it has the motivating power (beyond the Tea Party) that it did in '08. Part of the problem, at the time, was how it was passed. Part of it was the bad optics around its content. Part of it was the lack of Obama on TV every night pounding away at what it did for people (whatever that is--or, at least, whatever he says it is).

With hundreds of millions of dollars in ads over the next few months none of that's going to be a problem. Obama will be on TV every night. The Supreme Court Of The United States has ruled it constitutional, and the favorables for congress are in the toilet. Claiming it's a tax will have some traction--but at this stage? Probably not much: sure, it makes for a slogan (Obama's biggest achievement was ... a HUGE TAX!) but it's not going to resonate.

If you're sure it will, remember how the clear, cogent, logically laid out argument that the Payroll Tax wasn't a Tax swayed everyone back a while ago? How 'splain and explainin' all the constitutional-legal-eagle points of fact got through to the public that Obama's side was taking away the vital funding for the (hugely popular) Social Security fund while the GOP wasn't actually trying to raise taxes by reinstating it? Remember how that (statement of fact) swayed everyone?

Yeah: funny--I don't either.

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