Why Health Care Won't Be a Campaign Issue in 2012

(Roll Call/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court ruling on health care just may not be such a big deal in campaign 2012 after all.

Most Americans have already formed an opinion of the Obama health care law,  and a Supreme Court ruling isn't going to change that.

One Democratic strategist who was closely involved in the 2010 midterm elections - an election in which  a vote for the health care legislation cost many Democrats their seats- says the health care issue has "been played out and litigated out."  He sees the ihealth care in 2012 as a "sideshow," not the main event.

Since August 2009, ABC/Washington Post polling has asked Americans whether they support or oppose  changes to the health care system that have been enacted by Congress and the Obama administration.  At no point has the "support" hit 50 percent. Yet, opposition has also hovered in the same narrow range - somewhere between 48 percent to 52 percent.

So after three years of posturing and politicking and pontificating, Americans views on this law have stayed relatively consistent.

If the Supremes decide that the individual mandate is constitutionally sound, it won't convince skeptics of the program to embrace it. And it's not going to stop GOP candidates from labeling it as a government overreach that is going to run up the deficit and lead to health service rationing.

If it's found unconstitutional, it won't make those who are already opposed to the law dislike it more. Or make those who say they support it like it more.

One GOP strategist suggests that a decision by the court to uphold the individual mandate may actually help energize the GOP base. That way, says this strategist, "the political fight will continue and perhaps even intensify. If the court strikes down the law, it's possible that the issue will fade."

More important, candidates risk looking out of touch if they spend too much time campaigning on the individual mandate  instead of campaigning on jobs and the economy.

For many Americans, the real frustration about the health care law is that the debate over it consumed far too much time and energy in Washington, time and energy that they believe should have been spent trying to fix the economy.

With more than  50 percent of Americans listing the economy as the "single most important" issue in their vote for president, and just 3  percent picking health care, it's pretty clear what voters want to hear from the candidates this fall.