By Sam Baker - 06/18/12 06:07 PM EDT
Republican voters are more open than Demorats to a Supreme Court ruling striking down only part of President Obama’s healthcare law, according to a new poll.
The court is expected to issue a ruling within the next two weeks on the healthcare reform law. It must decide whether the law’s individual mandate, which requires most people to buy insurance or pay a penalty, is constitutional.
The third option would be a mixed result: Obama would lose a key part of his signature domestic achievement, but the law’s more popular provisions would remain in place.
According to the latest poll by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, Republicans could more easily accept a ruling that leaves parts of “ObamaCare” in place.
Both parties still prefer a sweeping decision: Republicans want the whole thing struck down, and Democrats want the whole thing upheld.
When asked about a decision striking only the mandate, 47 percent of Republicans surveyed said they would be unhappy with that outcome, compared with 43 percent who said they would happy.
By contrast, 56 percent of Democrats would be unhappy losing just the mandate. Only 35 percent said they would be happy with that scenario.
Although a majority of respondents in both parties would be unhappy with a mandate-specific ruling, they don’t seem to think it would be as bad as a broader loss. Eighty percent of Republicans would be unhappy if the mandate were to be upheld, and 74 percent of Democrats would be unhappy if the entire law were to fail.
The issue of “severability” — how much of the law has to fall if the mandate is unconstitutional — could play a major role in the political fallout from the high court’s decision. The justices seemed deeply skeptical of the mandate during oral arguments in March, but they were harder to read during the severability debate.
A decision striking only the mandate would deny a clear win to either side: It would be an undeniable rebuke to Obama, who has insisted the mandate is constitutional; but Republicans would not get the full-scale repeal they’re hoping for. And they could face difficult choices about how to deal with the policy chaos such a ruling would likely bring about.