One of the great political myths of the past few decades is the trope that the 1994 elections would have gone differently--meaning less disastrously for the Democratic Party--if only the Congress had passed that era's version of "health care reform," a full-on socialized medicine regime popularly known as Hillarycare. This trope, promulgated by a coalition of ex-Clintonistas, left-wing ideologues, Harry Hopkins-ite office holders and their sympathizers in the media, has been taken as gospel by all of the above for some years now.
Democratic pollsters Pat Cadell and Douglas Schoen, see things somewhat differently, and write in in the Washington Post today:
First, the battle for public opinion has been lost. Comprehensive health care has been lost. If it fails, as appears possible, Democrats will face the brunt of the electorate's reaction. If it passes, however, Democrats will face a far greater calamitous reaction at the polls. Wishing, praying or pretending will not change these outcomes.
Nothing has been more disconcerting than to watch Democratic politicians and their media supporters deceive themselves into believing that the public favors the Democrats' current health-care plan. Yes, most Americans believe, as we do, that real health-care reform is needed. And yes, certain proposals in the plan are supported by the public.
However, a solid majority of Americans opposes the massive health-reform plan. Four-fifths of those who oppose the plan strongly oppose it, according to Rasmussen polling this week, while only half of those who support the plan do so strongly. Many more Americans believe the legislation will worsen their health care, cost them more personally and add significantly to the national deficit. Never in our experience as pollsters can we recall such self-deluding misconstruction of survey data.
The White House document released Thursday arguing that reform is becoming more popular is in large part fighting the last war. This isn't 1994; it's 2010. And the bottom line is that the American public is overwhelmingly against this bill in its totality even if they like some of its parts.
Read the whole thing.
I'm starting to agree with Steve Green about the likely numbers in November. If the D.C. Dems are dumb and/or arrogant enough to ignore Caddell and Schoen's advice--and I strongly suspect they are both--I think they can stop worrying about losing 30 or 40 house seats, and start worrying about losing 70 or 80.