Monday, October 01, 2012

Public Opinion and the Health Care Case

Nate Persily

At the Times, Adam Liptak generously describes my study with Andrea Campbell (MIT), which looks at the  short term impact of the decision in the Health Care Case on public opinion toward the Court and the Affordable Care Act.  The very short story is that the Health Care Case is unique from a public opinion standpoint.  Never before, to my knowledge, has the Court upheld a federal law and in the aftermath, public opinion toward the law becomes more favorable but toward the Court becomes less favorable. Opinion toward both the Court and the ACA became more polarized along partisan lines in the immediate aftermath of the decision, as one would expect.  Of course, few, if any, cases (perhaps apart from Bush v. Gore), have been as salient and concern an issue over which political partisans were so deeply divided.  The polarization in opinion toward the Court and the ACA likely would have occurred had the Court struck down the law, albeit with partisans switching places.  We emphasize that our findings are limited to the short-term public opinion impact of this decision.  It already appears (from a recent Gallup Poll) that the Court has gained back some ground lost from the decision and the ACA has become more popular among all partisan subgroups according to recent Kaiser polls cited in the study.

This chapter will be included in an Oxford Press book, The Health Care Case: The Supreme Court's Decision and Its Implications (forthcoming May 2013), which I am editing with my Columbia colleagues, Gillian Metzger and Trevor Morrison.

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