Polls: Obama holds edge on health policy after high court ruling

New polls show a surge of enthusiasm among Democratic voters in the wake of last week’s Supreme Court decision upholding much of the Affordable Care Act and greater voter confidence in President Obama’s healthcare policies than rival Mitt Romney.

Fifty-nine percent of Democratic registered voters said they were very enthusiastic about voting this year, up from only 46 percent in March, in a new CNN/ORC poll released Monday and conducted after the landmark court ruling. 

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That massive spike in enthusiasm was not matched on the GOP side. Republican enthusiasm has remained steady at 51 percent.

And despite most polls showing Obama’s healthcare law to be unpopular, voters say Obama would do a better job on healthcare than GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney by 51 percent to 44.

Those findings matched the results in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, also released Monday. In that poll voters also view Romney less favorably on healthcare.

Just 30 percent in that poll say they hold a favorable view of Romney’s healthcare policies, with 47 percent negative. Twenty-three percent say they are undecided. 

Obama’s ratings on healthcare are also under water, with 45 percent favorable and 48 percent unfavorable, but by a smaller margin than Romney's. 

The poll also finds the public evenly split on the healthcare law following the court’s ruling, a gain for backers of the provisions. 

Forty-three percent see the law favorably overall, with 42 percent holding an unfavorable view. Before the ruling, an ABC/Post poll taken last week showed a 36 percent positive view of the law, with a 52 percent negative rating. 

Further adding to Romney’s concerns, independent voters prefer Obama’s healthcare reforms by 12 points. Thirty-eight percent of independent voters view Obama’s healthcare policies positively, with 26 percent showing support for Romney’s.

Even with his own base, Romney has a greater challenge convincing them to embrace his policies. Sixty-two percent of Republicans give Romney positive marks on healthcare, while Obama gets a positive score from 80 percent of Democrats.

In the wake of the court’s ruling, Romney’s campaign has muddled its message, splitting with Republicans who argue that the individual mandate provision is a tax, not a penalty. 

Romney’s attempts to attack the president’s healthcare plan is complicated by his own healthcare reforms passed as Massachusetts governor, which Democrats say formed the blueprint for their own federal reform effort. Romney, though, says he never intended for the Massachusetts reforms to be implemented nationally. The GOP candidate has pledged to undo the entire Affordable Care Act if elected.

The polls also show Romney holding close with Obama in the run-up to the November vote.

The CNN/ORC poll also found that Romney has a sizable lead in 15 key battleground states, but Obama holds a slim edge nationally.

Romney leads Obama 51 percent to 43 among likely voters surveyed in 15 states that will be critical in determining the outcome of the 2012 election.

Obama won 12 of these battleground states in 2008 — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin — and will need to keep about half of those in 2012 if he’s to secure reelection. The poll also considered Missouri, Indiana and Arizona to be battleground states.

That’s good news for Romney, showing he has a base of support in those states, but CNN’s swing state data comes with some caveats. It’s a blanket poll of 534 registered voters in those 15 states, so it’s no indication of which candidate leads in an individual state, or by how much.

Obama holds a slim lead over Romney nationally, 49 to 46, which is within the poll’s margin of error, and unchanged from the same poll in May.

The CNN poll of 1,390 registered voters across the country, and 534 registered voters in 15 battleground states, was conducted between June 28 and July 1 and has a 2.5 percent margin of error.

The ABC/Washington Post poll was conducted from June 28 to July 1 and has a 4-point margin of error.

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