Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Are voters ready to move on?

By David Gergen, CNN Senior Political Analyst
June 28, 2012 -- Updated 2110 GMT (0510 HKT)
President Barack Obama reacts Thursday at the White House following the Supreme Court's health care ruling.
President Barack Obama reacts Thursday at the White House following the Supreme Court's health care ruling.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • David Gergen: Many have thought upholding of Obamacare would galvanize right
  • Gergen says Mitt Romney needs independents and others, who may be tired of this fight
  • He says court has been seen as battleground for health reform; now that's over tide could shift
  • Gergen: Obama presidential in his reaction; Romney must find better response than attacks

Editor's note: David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been an adviser to four presidents. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he is a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Follow him on Twitter.

(CNN) -- With the Supreme Court's thunderbolt, a crucial battle is over on health care, but the war surely goes on. Or does it?

There has been a widespread view among conservatives that if the court were to uphold Obamacare that would do more to galvanize the tea party and other parts of their base than any other outcome. Anger and frustration can be powerful motivators in politics.

On cue, Mitt Romney immediately seized upon the court's decision to whip up Republican voters, arguing that now the only way to replace Obamacare is to replace President Obama. House Republicans are promising a quick, symbolic vote to overturn the law after July Fourth. And conservative groups are preparing to pour in millions of dollars in ads against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that will begin hitting as early as Friday.

David Gergen
David Gergen

Opinion: Health care victory, but still a long way to go

Clearly, the war moves to a new front as far as the right is concerned. And in truth, the GOP should be able to mobilize a higher turnout from its base this November.

But the base alone will not be enough to win: The GOP also needs to draw in boatloads more of moderate and centrist voters. And whether those folks are going to welcome new rounds of fighting over the health care law remains to be seen.

My hunch is that a sizable number will think the war over health care has gone on long enough, and they will want to move on to more important issues. Jobs and deficits have long been trumping health care around most dinner tables.

Obama: It's a victory for the people
Romney: I'll do what justices didn't
How will the court's ruling affect you?
Short-term loss for conservatives?

For better or worse, the court struggle came to be seen as the decisive battleground in trying to repeal the health reform law. Partisans on both sides, along with the press, created an expectation that the court would strike down the mandate, the keystone in the arch. Obama would be shown as another ineffectual Jimmy Carter, losing much of his authority.

Opinion: Liberty lost? The Supreme Court punts

But now that the court has spoken definitively on behalf of Obama -- and even Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the president -- there is likely to be a sense that the dam has broken. Especially among those who have been ambivalent about health care reform legislation -- and there are millions who like portions of it even though they don't much like it overall -- psychology may change. "Time to give it a rest; let's get our focus back to the economy."

How the public responds to the health care decision over the next couple of weeks will be critical. This is a moment when tides could shift.

Obama was smart in his reaction to the court: He didn't gloat too much over his huge victory, and he left open the door to alterations in the law in the months ahead. After some weeks of stumbling, he seemed presidential.

Romney is riding a tiger: To stay on top, he must continue to give voice to the tea party -- and if he falls off, as the joke goes, they will eat him. But a series of strident attacks against Obama and his health care plan will not be enough. To win, he must also reach voters beyond his base, showing that he understands their concerns and will speak for them, too.

Follow us on Twitter: @CNNOpinion.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

Overheard on CNN.com: Health care law a 'necessary evil'

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Gergen.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1538 GMT (2338 HKT)
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1205 GMT (2005 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Ronald Reagan went horseback riding and took a vacation after the Korean Air Crash of 1983. So why does the GOP keep airbrushing history to bash Obama?
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1338 GMT (2138 HKT)
Aaron Miller says Kerry needs the cooperation of Hamas, Israel, Egypt and others if he is to succeed in his peacemaking efforts
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1251 GMT (2051 HKT)
Errol Louis says the tragic death of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD has its roots in the "broken windows" police strategy from the crime-ridden '80s.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1127 GMT (1927 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says Texas Gov. Rick Perry is right to immediately send 1,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the border children crisis.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1356 GMT (2156 HKT)
Ukraine's president says the downing of MH17 was a terrorist act, but Richard Barrett says it would be considered terrorism only if it was intentional
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 2015 GMT (0415 HKT)
Robert McIntyre says the loophole that lets firms avoid taxes should be closed
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1535 GMT (2335 HKT)
Jeronimo Saldana and Malik Burnett say Gov. Perry's plan to send National Guard to the border won't solve the escalating immigration problem.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1742 GMT (0142 HKT)
Sally Kohn: The world's fish and waters are polluted and under threat. Be very careful what fish you eat
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1242 GMT (2042 HKT)
Les Abend says threat information that pilots respond to is only as good as the intelligence from air traffic controllers. And none of it is a match for a radar-guided missile
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
Frida Ghitis: Anger over MH17 is growing against pro-Russia separatists. It's time for the Dutch government to lead, she writes
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1227 GMT (2027 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says President Obama called inequality the "defining challenge" of our time but hasn't followed through.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1157 GMT (1957 HKT)
Gene Seymour says the 'Rockford Files' actor worked the persona of the principled coward, charming audiences on big and small screen for generations
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
Daniel Treisman says that when the Russian leader tied his fate to the Ukraine separatists, he set the stage for his current risky predicament
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1642 GMT (0042 HKT)
Andrew Kuchins says urgent diplomacy -- not sanctions -- is needed to de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine that helped lead to the downing of an airliner there.
July 19, 2014 -- Updated 0150 GMT (0950 HKT)
Jim Hall and Peter Goelz say there should be an immediate and thorough investigation into what happened to MH17.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT)
Pilot Bill Palmer says main defense commercial jets have against missiles is to avoid flying over conflict areas.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1755 GMT (0155 HKT)
Valerie Jarrett says that working women should not be discriminated against because they are pregnant.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1953 GMT (0353 HKT)
David Wheeler says the next time you get a difficult customer representative, think about recording the call.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1933 GMT (0333 HKT)
Newt Gingrich says the more dangerous the world becomes the more Obama hides in a fantasy world.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1011 GMT (1811 HKT)
Michael Desch: It's hard to see why anyone, including Russia and its local allies, would have intentionally targeted the Malaysian Airlines flight
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
LZ Granderson says we must remember our visceral horror at the news of children killed in an airstrike on a Gaza beach next time our politicians talk of war
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Sally Kohn says now the House GOP wants to sue Obama for not implementing a law fast enough, a law they voted down 50 times, all reason has left the room.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1214 GMT (2014 HKT)
A street sign for Wall Street
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, John McCain and others want to scale back the "too big to fail" banks that put us at risk of another financial collapse.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 2016 GMT (0416 HKT)
Newt Gingrich writes an open letter to Robert McDonald, the nominee to head the Veterans Administration.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1601 GMT (0001 HKT)
Paul Begala says Dick Cheney has caused an inordinate amount of damage yet continues in a relentless effort to revise the history of his failures.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1404 GMT (2204 HKT)
Kids who takes cell phones to bed are not sleeping, says Mel Robbins. Make them park their phones with the parents at night.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1729 GMT (0129 HKT)
Buzz Aldrin looked at planet Earth as he stood on talcum-like lunar dust 45 years ago. He thinks the next frontier should be Mars.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1804 GMT (0204 HKT)
Mark Zeller never thought my Afghan translator would save his life by killing two Taliban fighters who were about to kill him. The Taliban retaliated by placing him on the top of its kill list.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1518 GMT (2318 HKT)
Jeff Yang says an all-white cast of Asian characters in cartoonish costumes is racially offensive.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0124 GMT (0924 HKT)
Gary Ginsberg says the late John F. Kennedy Jr.'s reaction to an event in 1995 summed up his character
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Meg Urry says most falling space debris lands on the planet harmlessly and with no witnesses.
ADVERTISEMENT