by Max Brantley
A new Talk Business/Hendrix College poll sharply illustrates how messaging has won the war on health care reform.
In Arkansas, a solid 58 percent say opponents should continue to fight implementation of health care reform, despite its validation by the U.S. Supreme Court after its earlier passage by Congress.
At the same time, in the same poll, the opinion is split — 42 for to 46 against — expanding the Medicaid program in Arkansas, probably the most expensive part of health care reform.
More health care? Not so bad!
This is really not hard to analyze. For a couple of years now, Republicans have been painting the move toward universal health coverage of Americans as socialism at best, sheer evil and the end of health care at worst. It doesn't hurt in Arkansas that the symbol for the program is a black Muslim from Kenya, universally reviled in these precincts. The counter-message has been — almost nothing. Well, there is poor ol' Jay Bradford, valiantly trying to put in place the system by which previously uninsured Arkies will be able to get health insurance.
In Arkansas, the real problem is Obama. And I'll leave it to you to decide why he's such a problem.
Jay Barth notes in analysis of the poll:
Arkansans’ views are in significant contrast to national polling on the issue. Our poll question replicated a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation showing that by a 56% to 38% margin, Americans were ready for opponents to move on now that the Court had ruled. By a 58%-34% margin, Arkansans continue ongoing opposition.
It is reminiscent of nothing so much as Arkansas's dogged adherence to a system of education that was a national shame as late as the mid-1970s. Poor in money and service to our people, but perversely proud of it.
The health care results thrill Republican campaign operatives who plan to make 2012 a rerun of 2010. Every race, from dog catcher on up will be pitched as a referendum on the black man. If the pitch is successful, a Republican tsunami will ensue. When sick people lose the insurance rights they've just won; when kids are tossed off parents' insurance; when the new health insurance exchanges crumble; when the added cost for seniors' drugs returns; when Medicaid becomes but a shadow program for a tiny slice of the population and kids start losing primary coverage in droves — maybe then Arkansas voters might reconsider just who's evil. Is it the black man working for broader health coverage or Arkansas legislators who'd sacrifice the health of hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens?
MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Narrow split on this poll question, 47-46 in favor. I think it's moot. I stand by my prediction that the measure won't make the ballot.