Obviously the health care issue is the biggest problem looking forward for Mitt Romney's Presidential campaign. But just how big of an obstacle is it for him? Consider these numbers:
-Nationally 61% of Republican voters say they are not willing to vote for someone who supported a bill at the state level mandating that people have health insurance to only 17% who say they would be willing to do so and 22% who aren't sure.
We've asked that same question now in 3 of the 4 most important early Republican nomination states as well:
-In New Hampshire the numbers are almost identical to what they are nationally with 61% of GOP voters unwilling to support someone who supported a health insurance mandate even at the state level and just 14% willing to.
-In Iowa the numbers are a little bit worse, with 63% of Republicans unwilling to support someone who's supported a mandate in the past to only 11% who are willing to.
-And in Nevada the numbers are a lot worse, with 69% of GOP partisans unwilling to support someone who's supported a mandate in the past to only 7% willing to.
Now you might wonder- Romney's the early favorite in New Hampshire and Nevada and he's at or close to the top in most national polling too- how is that possible given these numbers on health insurance? The answer is at this point your average Republican primary voters doesn't know about his record on this issue. In New Hampshire he leads among GOPers unwilling to vote for someone who supported a state level mandate with 27% to 14% for Mike Huckabee and 13% for Newt Gingrich. It's a similar story in Nevada where he leads with 22% among people who say they wouldn't vote for a mandate supporter to 16% for Donald Trump and 13% for Gingrich.
It's safe to say that when voting time comes around all of those voters will know about Romney's past and it will probably cost him some of his support- the question is just how much? Is health care going to be such a litmus test for Republican voters that all of these folks supporting Romney right now will really drop him when they find out what he did in Massachusetts, or will other factors that make him appealing end up outweighing his baggage on this issue? I don't know the answer, but if GOPers really do end up treating this as a make or break issue then this early polling suggests the door is closed for Romney with more than half of primary voters.