Democratic candidates this fall will fare about the same whether health care passes or not. That's the finding of our newest national poll. So Democrats can not pass health care and go down in flames for having accomplished nothing, or they can pass health care and still go down in flames but at least have done some good for it.
The GOP leads 43-40 on the generic Congressional ballot. When you ask people how they'll vote if the Democrats don't pass their health care plan the GOP leads 43-38. That's because the level of support from Democratic voters for their own party drops from 80% to 76% if there is no health care bill. The GOP level of support remains unchanged at this point whether it passes or not.
Here's the bottom line on health care at this point: the political damage for Democrats has been done. It doesn't matter whether it actually passes- it has had the effect of getting Republican voters really fired up and along with the economy continuing to struggle it has turned independents toward the GOP as well. Those voters aren't going to come back at this point because health care doesn't pass. Would Democrats be in a better position right now if they hadn't even touched the issue? Probably. But what's the point of being in power if you don't deal with things like health care?
Democrats are primed to have a brutal election year right now. It might be nice if they actually had something to show for it. And as many smart people have argued, if health care reform passes and proves to be a success it may well be that while it's a short term political liability for the party, in the long run it's a winner in the vein of Social Security or Medicare.
We don't find any State of the Union bounce for Barack Obama. His approval breakdown of 48/49 is virtually identical to the 46/47 of two weeks ago.
Full results here