Richard has expressed skepticism at my post questioning whether health care reform could be the new “third rail” of American politics. I therefore feel compelled to post links to two recent surveys that strongly suggest that the focus on health care reform is hurting the approval ratings of both President Obama and the Democratic Party.
I’ve said before that I am suspicious of public opinion polling as a true measure of a President’s performance, and I hold to that position. It’s hard to look at the trends in the polling, however, and argue that the focus on health care reform has had any kind of benefit for either President Obama or Congress generally. Indeed, what is interesting about the Pew Research Center poll linked above is that while the approval ratings of Democrats have fallen precipitously, the approval ratings of Republicans have stayed steady. In effect, the Democrats are just coming back to the field. People who voted for Democrats in hopes that we would have a new, better approach have been disappointed, and they aren’t switching to the other party — they are just saying “a pox on both their houses.” It makes me wonder whether the turnout in the 2010 elections will be much much lower than in 2008 or even 2006, as disaffected former voters decide that choosing between equally uninspiring candidates for spots in the House and Senate just isn’t worth it.