Emerging False Meme
Predictably, conservative opponents of health care reform are spinning Tuesday’s election as a mandate to repeal “Obamacare” (a serious discussion about an issue of such gravity would eschew such name-calling, but I digress). Here’s Jay Sekulow writing in The Hill’s Congress Blog:
The reverberations are still being felt from Election Day. Sweeping changes coming to Congress and a new call to repeal ObamaCare – the health care law that many believe was forced upon Americans – a health care law that is government-run and fails the American people in many ways.
Americans repeatedly have expressed concern and opposition to the health care law. And, a growing majority say that want it repealed. The well-respected Rasmussen Reports conducted exit polls and found that 59% of those who voted on Election Day favor repealing ObamaCare – numbers that have been pretty consistent since the troubling health care measure was passed in March.
And, many of the Democrat candidates who ran in House races found out first-hand that ObamaCare is not only unpopular, it can be toxic when running for office. The Hill reported that in many cases a vote for ObamaCare translated into a defeat on election night.
Houston, we have a data problem. Given that Rasmussen had a significant conservative bias in this election cycle, it’s interesting that Sekulow would lean on their data to support his argument. Edison Research’s exit polls – which are used by the Associated Press, CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox News – show that a minority of midterm voters (48%) wanted to repeal health care reform, with 31% wanting it to do more and 16% wanting to leave it as is. Furthermore, voters who turned out on Tuesday were more conservative than the country at large. Taking a wider view, a Gallup poll that was in the field last weekend showed that less than Â¼ of Americans (23%) think repealing health care should be Congress’s top priority after the election. (By way of comparison, 38% said passing a new stimulus bill designed to create jobs should be Congress’s top priority). Furthermore, Sekulow’s argument that “Obamacare” was a political liability on election night elides the fact that a majority of House Democrats who voted against health care reform lost. After a wave election, interest groups on the victorious side are quick to claim a mandate for their favorite issue. But when such claims fly in the face of the facts, they needn’t be taken seriously.