A changing political landscape for health care reform

A CHANGING POLITICAL LANDSCAPE FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM…. At the height of the debate over health care reform, a certain set of political assumptions set in — the Democratic proposal was unpopular, thanks to a scathing misinformation campaign. Republicans would base much of their midterm strategy on running against the new law, while Democrats hoped to see the law’s popularity grow as the right-wing lies faded.

We’re not yet near the point at which the Affordable Care Act could be characterized as “popular,” but Dems are likely pleased with the recent trend.

Opposition to the landmark health care overhaul declined over the past month, to 35 percent from 41 percent, according to the latest results of a tracking poll, reported Thursday.

Fifty percent of the public held a favorable view of the law, up slightly from 48 percent a month ago, while 14 percent expressed no opinion about the measure, according to the poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Since April, the tracking poll has found support for the health care reform law go up four points, while opposition has gone down five points. Less encouraging were results that showed more than a third of seniors still believe made-up “death panels” are real — zombie lies are surprisingly hard to kill — but overall, proponents of the ACA who predicted that blind hatred for reform would fade over time appear to be correct.

In fairness, not every recent poll offers such encouragement. A recent Pew Forum/National Journal survey (pdf) still showed opponents outnumbering supporters by a fairly wide margin.

On the other hand, last month, a national Associated Press-GfK poll found that support for the Affordable Care Act was not only on the rise, but had reached new heights — health care reform’s supporters outnumbered opponents, 45% to 42%. A week later, a Gallup poll found 49% of respondents agreeing that passage of the law is a “good thing,” while 46% think it’s a “bad thing.”

The point isn’t that all the recent data offers good news for ACA backers; the point is that assumptions that Americans hate the new law are wrong. House Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office argued recently that “the American people remain squarely opposed” to health care reform, and pointed to “the rising public backlash against the new law.”

The evidence to support such observations is still lacking.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.