President Barack Obama's healthcare law can be a potent issue for Democrats this year, especially among unmarried women, if the party's candidates handle the topic correctly in their fall campaigns, according to a new analysis by Democracy Corps, a Democrat-leading research group.
"If Democrats take up the debate with confidence—educate voters on the benefits and, above all, denounce the battle to repeal and refight healthcare—they will win the issue," says the analysis. "Support for healthcare reform has risen steadily over this year."
But the analysis also contains some bad news for the Democrats. Only 60 percent of unmarried women say they will vote for President Obama in the November election, compared with 70 percent who voted for him in 2008. This could seriously hurt his prospects because single women have been among his most loyal supporters and they could constitute one-quarter of the electorate, according to Democracy Corps.
The group adds: "Unmarried women—one of the main beneficiaries of healthcare reform, and one of the groups most affected by the economic crash—are also poltically disengaged. Their support for Obama now falls short of their 2008 vote by 10 points."
The analysts say that, "If Democrats take up healthcare in a serious way that is both educative and compelling, they are likely to make their biggest gains among these voters....Among all voters and among unmarried women, the three most popular elements of the healthcare law are allowing children to remain on their parents' insurance up to age 26, preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, and requiring insurance policies to cover preventive care for women."
A law overhauling the healthcare system was one of the signature initiatives of the Obama presidency. It is widely opposed by Republicans, many of whom favor repeal.
Democracy Corps was founded by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg and consultant James Carville.
The current survey was co-sponsored by "Women's Voices Women Vote Action Fund," an advocacy group which aims to increase political participation by unmarried women, minorities, and young people.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," and is the author of "The Presidency" column in the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.