72% of Americans Believe the Mandate is Unconstitutional

Many polls have shown that the Affordable Care Act remains unpopular.  (One example is here.)  Now comes a USA Today/Gallup poll showing that nearly three quarters of Americans, including 56% of Democrats and 54% of those who think “the healthcare law is a good thing,” believe the individual mandate to be unconstitutional.  Here is how Gallup describes its results:

Americans Do Not Think Individual Mandate Passes Legal Muster

The Supreme Court next month will hear legal challenges to the healthcare law, which are focused on the law’s requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance or pay a fine. Americans overwhelmingly believe the “individual mandate,” as it is often called, is unconstitutional, by a margin of 72% to 20%.

Even a majority of Democrats, and a majority of those who think the healthcare law is a good thing, believe that provision is unconstitutional.

As you may know, the Supreme Court will hear arguments next month concerning a requirement in the healthcare law that every American must buy health insurance or pay a fine. Regardless of whether you favor or oppose the law, do you think this requirement is constitutional or unconstitutional? Among all Americans, by party ID, and by view of healthcare law, February 2012

Of course, it is just one poll, but I don’t recall seeing this issue polled before.  The closest I have seen is this poll from the Associated Press and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia:

Do you think the Federal Government should have the power to require all Americans to buy health insurance, and to pay a fine if they don’t or do you think the Federal Government should not have that power?

The Federal Government should have the power to require all Americans to buy health insurance

8/18-22/11:  16%  [previous year’s results:  8/11-16/10: 17%]

The Federal Government should not have the power to require all Americans to buy health insurance

8/18-22/11:  82%  [previous year’s results:  8/11-16/10:  83%]

I do not believe that the Supreme Court decides cases based on how well laws or its decisions may poll.  But these results do suggest that the Court is unlikely to face a strong backlash should it hold the individual mandate unconstitutional.  Such a decision by the Court would conform to the current expectations of the public — assuming, of course, that this polling is remotely accurate and underlying opinion remains the same in June as it is today.