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How Will Obamacare Decision Affect Pa. Voters?

Political experts say Pennsylvania voters may be more or less motivated if the Supreme Court strikes down Obama's health care reform

By G. Terry Madonna & Michael L.Young

The New York Times calls Pennsylvania a “toss up state.” Others have tagged it a “battleground state” and even a “swing state.” Electoral labels aside, Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes comprise the second largest prize among the competitive states. Not surprisingly, both presidential campaigns seem to be taking the state seriously despite Barack Obama’s approximate 8-point lead and a string of Democratic victories stretching back to 1988.

But if the Keystone State is in play now, it may not be for long once an impending Supreme Court decision is handed down.
 
Shortly, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce whether the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obama Care) passes constitutional scrutiny. Most observers expect some or the entire act to be struck down. If this happens the electoral implications will be profound. In fact, striking down all or major portions of the health care law could reshape the ongoing presidential race in ways only now dimly perceived.
 
Exactly why this is so requires explanation and history provides it. Indeed, American history offers a compelling lesson: in analogous situations to the health care debate: the losing side in major court cases often becomes energized while the winning side often becomes complacent. The nation’s long running legal debate over abortion exemplifies this pattern, although it has existed as far back as ante-bellum Civil War times. Many of the transformative issues of American national life including prohibition, women’s suffrage and even slavery illustrate the principle.

Applying this lesson to health care means a Democratic loss in the Supreme Court could inject a powerful shot of adrenaline into a largely apathetic Democratic Party base. At the same time it would probably undercut the GOP enthusiasm that has been so massively mobilized by opposition to Obama’s healthcare plan.
 
The converse, while unlikely, is true also. If the Supreme Court does uphold Obama care, it will be Republicans who are energized, with consequences equally as significant for the 2012 election. States now comfortably in Obama’s column could become toss-ups overnight.
 
How can a single Supreme Court decision hold so much importance to an election? One way to answer this question is to examine the most recent Franklin & Marshall College Poll that asked Pennsylvania voters how they felt about Obama’s health care law.
 
Statewide, Pennsylvanians are actually divided somewhat evenly on Obama’s healthcare legislation, with about 46% in favor and 48% opposed. But this apparent divided opinion dissolves dramatically when one examines the data along party lines.
 
Rarely, if ever, is there greater polarization along party lines than exists on this issue. In Pennsylvania eight in ten Republicans oppose the Affordable Care Act, but only about two in ten Democrats do. 
 
The sharp party polarization in Pennsylvania is roughly mirrored in national statistics. The Pew Research Center estimates that nationally 88% of Republicans disapprove of the law, while only 37% of Democrats disapprove.
 
Opposition to Obama care has been the GOP’s hot button issue in 2012. Consequently, if the Supreme Court scuttles it, the issue that has animated Republican voters more than any other will be mooted. Taking it off the table inevitably effects Republican turnout and support for Romney. How much is impossible to say. But by winning in the Supreme Court, some of the air goes out of the GOP electoral balloon.
 
Similarly it is impossible to know how much losing in the Supreme Court will motivate Democratic voters .The now relatively quiescent Democratic base, however, might respond vigorously. Certainly Democratic strategists will have newfound opportunity to castigate Republicans over issues that have been moribund since Obama care was passed, including uninsured voters and lifetime spending limits.
 
What this means for Pennsylvania is that a race now seen as more and more winnable for Republicans may instead shift decisively toward Obama and the Democrats. What it means nationally is that a tight race gets tighter still.
 
Winning on health care reform could cost Republicans the presidency, while losing could give Democrats another term in the White House. If it turns out this way, it won’t be the first time in American history that winning a legal battle lost a political war.

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Politically Uncorrected™ is published twice monthly, and previous columns can be viewed at http://politics.fandm.edu. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any institution or organization with which they are affiliated. This article may be used in whole or part only with appropriate attribution. Copyright © 2010 Terry Madonna and Michael Young.

Tony June 28, 2012 at 01:07 PM
John ....luckily I had insurance at the time for my child that needed the MRI. The bill was $25,000. That is a fact. I have it to prove it. I had a deductable of $1500. I paid it. It is ridiculous these are facts. Obama has NOT hurt ANY small business owner, get your head out of your butt. He has given us tax breaks, payroll tax breaks for employees. SHOW US FACTS where he has hurt any small business owner you putz
John Stanley June 29, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Frank - people like you make me sick
will ball June 29, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Open your eyes Liberals are Losers. Or, better yet, try to see a different point of view other than your own. I never claimed to have it figured all out. I'm simply pointing out how trivial and trite your statements are, especially when considering that no one cares what you have to say. But it's not just you, it's everyone who launches into thunderous tirades on online forums. Thanks for proving my point Wilfred. You sir, are wasting your time. How many people have you "converted" to your point of view? None. So why post your opinion on a forum? Because you need an outlet to voice what you have to say. But why do you do this? It stems from a much deeper need and craving. You want to be heard because you feel like what you have to say matters. But it doesn't. In fact, we've heard it before from our media. Way to keep the cycle going!
Barry Gellman July 03, 2012 at 08:51 PM
taxing the well to do to cover the poor isn't reform ! making the hospitols stop charging 5K for a cat scan when they are willing to accept 35$ for it from the insurance companies. THAT is REFORM . Obamma care is simply redistribution of assetts and does not address the health care problem at all , least of all for anyone that actually has health care .. Look at a hosp bill some time , its rediculous ! then they accept three precent from your ins company . Try paying 3 % of your deductible and see where that get's you . I called Phoenixville Hospitol to discus thatr ater I saw them accept 3% of a rediculous bill from blue cross and I offered to man up and pay 5% of my $100.00 deductible and they weren't satisfied with that ? hmmmmmmmm .
MrCute Anny April 11, 2013 at 11:10 AM
They divided it up in every possible way to milk us for as much as they possibly could. After five months, it did get taken care of - heck, they even admitted it was inappropriate billing - but that kind of stuff has become normal these days. In any case: as far as knowing what something will cost ahead of time: UNN http://www.unn.edu.ng

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