Many polls have tried to find out exactly how the public feels about the new federal health care law, with one of the latest — a Kaiser Family Foundation survey released earlier this week — finding that the Obama administration's signature legislation appears to be getting more popular.
On Tuesday (Aug. 3), Missouri voters will have the chance to provide the most concrete example to date of the electorate's mood toward the law. They will weigh in on a ballot measure that seeks to reject the individual health care mandate that lies at the center of the legislation. The Associated Press reports that more than 1 million voters are expected to weigh in, so the ballot measure amounts to what the wire service calls " the largest-ever public opinion poll on the nation's new health care law ."
It won't be the only time this year voters will have their say about the law. Besides the slew of legislative, congressional and gubernatorial candidates that are bringing it up on the campaign trail, legislatures in Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma have put questions directly to the voters — as Missouri is doing — to gauge whether they want to participate in the federal program.
But exactly where and in what form the ballot questions appear remains to be determined. On Thursday (July 29), a state judge in Florida tossed the legislature's measure from the ballot, calling the wording of the Republican-backed question "manifestly misleading," according to The Miami Herald . The decision marks a political loss for the GOP and is likely to be appealed.
Worth bearing in mind is that the legal effects of this year's state ballot measures may be limited, since federal laws generally trump those of the states. Politically, however, voters in Missouri and elsewhere will have a chance to send an important signal about health care. The expected passage of the Missouri proposal, the AP said , "could send an ominous political message to Democrats seeking to hang on to their congressional majority in this year's midterm elections."