One of the biggest mistakes Democrats have made over the past several months was to focus primarily on health care and ignore the jobs crisis.
In a Gallup poll earlier this month, Americans named “unemployment” and “economy in general” as their top two issues, with “health care” lagging behind.
If you combine the top two along with the economically related issue in the top 5, the federal deficit, economic issues are more important than health care by a margin of 63%-20%.
All in all, Americans are overwhelmingly more concerned about their economic well-being than the status of their health care.
That’s something the Democrats learned the hard way over the course of the health care debate. While surely frustration with the government takeover led to a good portion of Obamacare’s unpopularity and the turnaround in the generic congressional ballot, the simple fact that Democrats were ignoring the most pressing issue facing Americans means far more.
The fact is this, health care is not the most important issue, and more relevant to the topic at hand, it’s not the most tangible.
People are feeling the jobs crisis. They see their shrinking checking accounts. They are having trouble selling their homes. They know friends and family looking for jobs.
By and large, the majority of Americans aren’t feeling a health care crisis. Sure, they think the system needs reformed, but mostly for the guy on TV the President is talking about, not for their own lives.
We can’t forget that the GOP already has a winning issue for November: the Stimulus.
The $862 billion stimulus, a Democrat-owned initiative that spends more than the entire Iraq War has cost since its inception, has failed.
Come the fall, with unemployment still high, there will be no doubt that the stimulus failed to do what Democrats promised it would do.
Additionally, all polls point to a public who has already bought into that perception. But by focusing all our energy on a health care repeal, we are wasting a valuable political opportunity.
Now, by no means am I saying the GOP should abandon its talking points on Obamacare. Keep it up. But prioritize your efforts.
Embrace the issue that hits home the most for Americans.
The jobs crisis.
UPDATE: I’ve had a couple e-mails from folks questioning how this post can coexist with my previous post pushing for conservatives to not let up on the health care fight. It’s a fair point, but it’s explained in the above post in terms of prioritizing our tactics. For example, the grassroots is in a perfect position to continue attending town hall meetings and pushing their Representatives on health care. Additionally, the GOP leadership can utilize its fundraising dollars to push Democrats on their failures to effectively address the jobs crisis.
We must address the issues that have proven to be first and foremost on the minds of the majority of voters, and that’s jobs. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of opportunity to hit the opposition on their mess of a health care reform bill.