CNN has an interesting new poll out in which they test the GOP's disingenuous (but Frank Luntz approved) "repeal and replace" slogan against the alternatives of "leaving the bill as it is" and making "additional changes to increase the government's involvement in the nation's health care system."That's not all. When asked whether or not their families would be better under the plan, 22% said they would be better. 39% said worse. But a full 37% said it would make no difference. In short, 59% of Americans have no particular reason to be opposed to the bill. That's no mandate for drastic change in the form of the repeal.
The results? 50% believe support leaving the bill as it is (23%) or expanding it (27%) while 47% support "repeal and replace."
Keep in mind that CNN didn't just test repeal -- they tested the GOP's preferred formulation, "repeal and replace." Nonetheless, the Republican argument falls short: more people support the Democratic approach (maintain and/or expand) than the GOP's path (repeal and replace).
I'd be willing to wager that 47% will be at or close to the high-water mark for the GOP position. As we move forward and people become more familiar with the law, anyone serious about efforts to improve the new reform legislation will be offering ideas for incremental expansion or change, not full-scale overhaul.
Think about it this way: if we were talking about Social Security or Medicare, how do you think "repeal and replace" would poll? It would poll terribly, because it sounds like a bunch of nonsense. That's the same challenge Republicans will begin to face. They are starting out from behind with a strategy that is destined to fail. It's not an enviable position to be in.
Similarly, when asked if they approved of the bill, 15% did so without reservations, while 27% approved but thought it "didn't go far enough." That is, among the 42% who approve, a majority would like to see a more progressive bill. 25% oppose the bill in its entirety. But then there is a large block, 31%, that disapproves of the bill but would like to retain some of its provisions. That's 56% disapproval, yes, but it's also 73% approval of portions of the bill.
This electorate is volatile, but the good news is that well over 40% of the electorate favors the bill, and 50% opposes repeal. That isn't a landslide in the making. If the President stays in happy warrior mode between now and November (and don't forget, there is likely to be a pitched Supreme Court nomination battle this summer) Democrats should be as motivated as the teabaggers. The waning of the enthusiasm gap is the worst news of the year over at GOP central command. Unless they are too distracted by the lesbian dominatrices to notice.