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After Passage, Public Opinion Flips To Support On Health Care

You know the story of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game, right? The game was played up in Hershey, PA, where the Philadelphia Warriors played a few of their home games in the 1962 season. The arena was tiny, run-down and ramshackle. About 4,000 people watched at HersheyPark Arena as Wilt dropped 100 on the New York Knicks – most of them showed up for a pre-game special basketball game between members of the Philadelphia Eagles and the Baltimore Colts. But over the years, fans came up to Wilt and told him they were at the game. So many, in fact, that about 10 times as many people who actually attended personally testified to their presence. Moral: everybody loves a winner.

It is with that background that I bring you this Gallup snap poll:

As you may know, yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that restructures the nation’s healthcare system. All in all, do you think it is a good thing or a bad thing that Congress passed this bill?

Good thing 49%
Bad thing 40%
Don’t know 11%

This poll was taken the day after passage in the House.

After the reconciliation hurdle is cleared, debate on the health care law will include little discussion about process, or special deals. The legislation will live and die on its content. And that content can be sold in a couple ways: you can talk about the immediate as well as long-term benefits, which are largely tangible – or you can talk about the propping up of industry, who made out very well on the legislation.

Republicans thus far have done NEITHER of these, preferring a process argument and a scare story about a government takeover of health care. The first will melt away, and the second will be shown to be false. And health care reform will grow in popularity in the near term. If the components of the bill which most need fixing are fixes, that will be the trajectory in the long term, too.

UPDATE: The Speaker’s office just sent me a litany of positive editorials about the passage of health reform. This is the manifestation of the same natural impulse to be on the winning side.

UPDATE II: Pollster Stan Greenberg has somewhat similar thoughts.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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