Fifty-eight percent of Americans want to repeal the health care bill. ~David Brooks
Brooks refers here to the overall pro-repeal number in the latest Rasmussen poll. Like their last poll on health care repeal, this one contains several bizarre results when we look at the crosstabs. When we look at the numbers for 18-29 year old likely voters, who have regularly been the age group most supportive of the health care bill from the beginning, we see numbers that make no sense. Three weeks ago, 58% of 18-29 year olds said that they favored repeal, which was already hard to believe, and now that number has leaped to 76%. Looking at the other age groups, we find that pro-repeal sentiment has dropped among 30-39 olds from 52% in March to 48%, and it has risen from 55% to 64% among 40-49 year olds, but remain relatively unchanged among 50-64 year olds (54%) and 65+ likely voters (60%).
According to Rasmussen, by far the most ardent pro-repeal constituency other than self-identified conservatives and Republicans is supposed to be 18-29 year olds. This seems unlikely. 18-29 year olds, the so-called Millennials, were and have continued to be more supportive of Obama than any other age group, and they tend to be more socially and fiscally liberal than any other age group. The Pew survey on Millennials made this very clear. Obviously, something is wrong with this poll. The support/oppose repeal framing of the question ends up lumping in progressive hostility to the health care bill because they think it is too “centrist” and inadequate with the actual desire to repeal the new legislation and start over.
It would be much more useful if we could have a poll result of likely voters that distinguished between opposition to the bill and the willingness to support Republican candidates campaigning for repeal, or even a poll question like the one in the YouGov survey I have mentioned before. According to that YouGov survey of adults, 39.6% agreed that the “current health care reform bill has so much wrong with it that it should not become law.” That is what repeal advocates believe. Another 43% like some elements of the bill, but believe the bill could have been better. 17% are satisfied with the bill as it is. Even when we take into account that this was a survey of adults and not likely voters, that would not translate into 58% support for repeal.
Other weird numbers that leap out from the Rasmussen crosstabs is the even higher percentage of black likely voters who say they favor repeal: up from the implausible 32% of last month to 49% now. Does anyone believe that Republicans are going to win anything close to half of the black vote in the fall? 61% of women favor repeal, while only 55% of men favor the same? We’re supposed to believe that pro-repeal sentiment has jumped 10 points among women and dropped three points among men in the last three weeks? Are Republicans going to win the women’s vote by campaigning on health care repeal? This seems highly unlikely.
Most conservatives and voters 65+ really do oppose the health care bill, and they are more likely to turn out in the fall. If the Democrats are going to suffer major losses, it will be because of the relatively higher turnout of these and other voters for Republican candidates against relatively weaker turnout by the Democratic base and new Obama voters. It will not be because there is a pro-repeal majority swollen by the disaffected ranks of Obama’s core constituencies. In practice, very few of the young, black, women and Democratic voters who say that they favor repeal will actually vote in such a way as to make repeal more likely.