03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Democrats May Suffer If They Fail To Pass Health Care Legislation: Poll

Democrats may face severe political consequences in the polls next year if they fail to pass health care reform legislation. A new survey from Public Policy Polling finds Democrats risk losing their edge over Republicans on a generic Congressional ballot if they are not successful in achieving reform.

The survey asked registered voters whether they would choose a Democrat or a Republican next year, if a health care bill with a public option has been passed. Forty-six percent said they would vote for a Democrat, while only 41% said they would vote for a Republican. When asked the same question under the scenario that Congress fails to pass health care reform legislation, the parties tied on the generic ballot, 40%-40%.

"Clearly Democrats need to pass a health care bill if they want to do well at the polls next year," said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling.

Currently, Democrats lead Republicans on the generic Congressional ballot 46% to 38%. So while passing health care doesn't improve their numbers, failing to pass it hurts them. Nate Silver analyzes:

Both polling and common sense would seem to dictate that the best way for Democrats to cut their losses would be to pass a health care bill -- particularly one with a public option -- and then move on to debating financial regulation and a jobs program, where public sentiment should be more on their side. They should probably not expect to gain ground if they pass health care -- but they're likely to lose more if they don't.

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