Now that the Supreme Court's decision on Obamacare has sunk in, it is time to put its political impact in perspective. The average voter is not going to become Alan Dershowitz overnight and analyze the Supreme Court's decision in depth—the bottom line is the law was upheld. Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul is actually wrong—the Supreme Court is the branch of our government which decides on whether a law is or is not constitutional. The question is what does that do to President Barack Obama's re-election chances and the realities show it could easily be a net negative.
The fact that the mandate was upheld as a tax definitely does not help Obamacare's, and in turn, President Obama's, popularity. However it is not the deciding factor, since the law is immensely unpopular as it is. Polls taken before the decision was handed down showed approval for Obamacare to be in the low 30s as it is.
Americans chaffed at being forced to buy medical insurance when it was called a penalty, and they will do so, likely to an even higher extent, now that that it is called a tax. No Supreme Court decision can change the voters' mind on that.
Therefore, the result, while allowing for President Obama to claim a policy victory, renders that victory a Pyrrhic one in terms of his sole political goal—re-election. Combined with the current troublesome state of the United States, just that Pyrrhic victory may be the straw that causes for President Obama to lose the war.
On the morning the court announced its decision on Obamacare, President Obama woke up with upside down approval ratings, unemployment over 8 percent for over 40 months, and little GDP growth to speak of. On the morning after the Supreme Court's ruling, all of those facts are still reality with an added focus on having an unpopular legislation as the president's crowning achievement.
If all those facts are still reality on November 6, 2012, President Obama will be well on his way to becoming former President Obama.