Election 2012: Health check
When the Supreme Court ruled in late June to support the Affordable Care Act — commonly referred to as “Obamacare” — the decision was hailed as a victory for President Obama and health-care reform.
Still, since it was introduced two years ago, the act has gathered its share of supporters and critics, and may continue to do so as the November election approaches.
Despite the high court’s decision, some political experts say health care could continue to be an issue as the campaign enters its final months.
Here’s how some political science professors say both the president and his likely Republican opponent, former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, can use the decision to their advantage in their campaigns.
1. Play up what’s popular. Although the health care act is polarizing — largely because the government will require buying health insurance or paying a penalty — Dianne Bystrom, director of the center for women and politics at Iowa State University, said people like several parts of the act.
Those parts include keeping children on parents’ health plans until age 26, allowing those with pre-existing conditions to have insurance, and no longer requiring women to pay more than men. As the election nears, Bystrom said the president has a chance to resell the act. “The Obama campaign needs to focus on things (voters) tend to like,” she said. “They will best be served by having a positive message on health care.”
2. Recap accomplishments. Passing the health-care act likely boosted Democrats’ morale, Vanderbilt University political science professor Marc Hetherington said. But because the act is divisive, he said the Obama campaign should remind voters about his other accomplishments. After all, both Osama bin Laden and Moammar Qadafi were killed during his time in office. In the past, Republicans were usually the tougher of the two parties in foreign affairs.
In addition, Hetherington said Obama should stress his plans for immigration reform and DREAM Act legislation that would start illegal immigrants on a path toward residency. Hetherington said this contrasts Romney’s harder stance on immigration and might draw Latino voters to the president. “Obama’s had a terrific record with foreign affairs,”
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