The Supreme Court is expected to rule on ObamaCare this Thursday. The many potential outcomes will likely boil down to this: The SCOTUS can uphold the law in its entirety, strike down the law in its entirety, or remove the mandate, while preserving the rest of the law.
Much ink will be spilled trying to guess what they might decide. But let’s put aside that speculation, in favor of a different question: Which of these outcomes would most benefit the presidential prospects of Mitt Romney? There are different theories, but my guess is that striking the mandate (the most odious aspect of the law) — while leaving rest in place — is likely the best outcome for Romney.
Here’s why: Opposition to ObamaCare is the issue that unites conservatives today. Striking it down in toto would deprive Romney of something precious — an issue that unites and enthuses his base — and also happens to be popular with most Americans.
If enthusiasm matters, consider the implications: If ObamaCare is defeated in June, it makes November less urgent for conservatives. (Remember, Romney has promised to move to repeal it on day one).
It’s also important to understand how the other side might react. If ObamaCare is repealed in full, liberals will predictably feel slighted. Anger and outrage can be a powerful motivating force in politics, and my guess is that the backlash against the court would help Obama.
On the other hand, let’s suppose the water is muddied — that only part of the law is thrown out. If ObamaCare persists, yet suddenly lacks a mandate, Obama would find himself in the unenviable position of explaining why he spent such a major portion of his presidency — and so much of his political capital — ramming a law that is unconstitutional down our throats.
Political fallout is inevitable from Supreme Court decisions. But my guess is this is the best possible outcome for Romney.