Is the health care bounce history? 

Pollster Scott Rasmussen’s latest sample suggests that Barack Obama’s approval rating bounced slightly upward when the House passed the health care bills March 21 and has since subsided. Rasmussen’s approval index, subtracting the percentage strongly disapproving from the percentage strongly approving, was -21 on March 20 (reflecting interviews conducted March 17-19), dropped to -10 on March 23 (interviews conducted March 20-22) and today is back up to -16 (interviews conducted March 25-27). Strong approval topped out at 32% on March 25 and is back down to 28%, just a little above the level in the month before passage of the bills March 21. Strong disapproval is at 44%, the highest it’s been.

Tentative conclusion: Passage of the bill increased strong approval from and enthusiasm among Democrats for a short time. It did not decrease strong approval from and enthusiasm among Independents and Republicans opposing Obamacare.

Gallup’s daily tracking tends to support this conclusion. Gallup’s sample of adults gave Obama a high of 51%-43% approval in the week the health care vote was pending; it’s back down to 46%-46% today.

We have seen repeatedly how speeches and appearances by the president have raised his support levels, but only momentarily; they tend to subside toward previous levels. Something like that seems to be happening in the wake of passage of the health care bills.

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Michael Barone

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