Romney's Iron Stethoscope

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Opinion Zone,Ben Domenech

When Mitt Romney passed his health care law as governor in Massachusetts, it was initially quite popular -- more so than President Obama's similar law at the national level.  But now that the policy has been in place a few years, the approach's popularity has sunk.

According to a new poll released last week, and conducted by non-partisan sources, Suffolk University and WHDH-TV, when asked if Massachusetts' health care laws were working or not, only 38 percent said yes, while 49 percent said no.

As John R. Graham points out, in 2008, polls found support for Romney's reforms of 69 percent approval -- far more popular than Obama's law has ever been (according to Rasmussen, consistent majorities of American voters support its repeal).  This suggests that as people are forced to follow former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's advice about the bill, and find out what's in it over the coming year, the law's tepid popularity will undergo a similar sinking sensation -- indeed, this may turn out to be the high point of the national law's popularity.



As for Romney's ability to distance himself from his unpopular policy, the people of Massachusetts are grim.  In the Suffolk University poll, a followup question asked registered voters: "Do you think Mitt Romney's role in health care here will help or hurt his presidential campaign?"  The results: only 22 percent said it would help Romney, while 54 percent said it would hurt.

While that's a question whose answer will depend on Republican primary voters, the poll respondents are likely to prove correct -- particularly if Romney still doesn't get the damage he's done.  David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, put it in blunt terms in the WHDH report: "Health care continues to define Mitt Romney and weigh down his presidential campaign like an iron stethoscope."

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