Public Believes National HealthCare Mandate Not Constitutional, Not Sure About The Massachusetts Law

April 04, 2012, 3:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 3/31/2012) If the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate of the Affordable Health Care Act, as many Court watchers believe it will after last week’s argument, the latest Economist/YouGov Poll suggests that the American public might not be too surprised—or too upset. By more than two to one, Americans say that the requirement that all Americans purchase health care insurance is unconstitutional.

Eight in ten Republicans and six in ten independents think the requirement is unconstitutional. Democrats disagree, but by a narrow eight-point margin.

And as far as expectations go, just 9% think the law will be upheld, something President Obama said yesterday he expected would happen. Half say either the individual mandate alone or the entire law will be declared unconstitutional. However, 42% say they just don’t know.

Majorities of Republicans and independents expect some or all of the law will not survive the constitutional challenge. Even Democrats, unlike their President, are pessimistic. Only 10% of them think the law will survive unchanged.

One reason the law gets only limited support is that Americans are divided on whether the federal government has the responsibility to see to it that everyone has health care coverage. 39% think it does; 45% say it does not. Like so many things about this debate, the partisan divisions on this question are stark.

Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney promoted and signed a health care law with an individual mandate in Massachusetts while he was Governor. Americans aren’t quite sure what to think of that law—they are split nearly evenly between believing it’s constitutional, believing it’s not, and not being sure. Republican voters, on the verge of nominating Romney as their presidential candidate, say the Massachusetts law is unconstitutional by a wide margin.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here

Photo source: Press Association