Only hours after the president signed health care reform legislation into law on Tuesday, the immediate political benefits for the Democratic Party are already coming into focus.
According to a Gallup/USA Today poll conducted the day after health care legislation passed the House of Representatives, 49 percent of the respondents think the passage of reform is a "good thing," compared to the 40 percent who think it is bad. The numbers are a welcome relief for a party and a presidency that had been bleeding popular support over the course of the past six months.
Democrats didn't just get a health-care-related boost in the realm of public opinion. The Democratic National Committee reported raising more than $1 million in donations on Tuesday even without making a direct ask. The money is expected to pour in for other campaign committees as well.
Responding to the growing GOP effort to get the legislation repealed, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee launched a new fundraising toolbar on its website, pointing out which Republican senatorial candidates are ready to take away what particular benefits of reform.
Meanwhile, over at the White House the mood was downright jubilant. Days before health care reform passed, the consensus among top officials was that the president could survive a legislative defeat but the party would crumble around him. The polling numbers had risen a bit since Obama confronted House Republicans during their retreat at Baltimore in January. But they were still lethargic and a cause for concern.
More than anything else, a GOP victory would have crystallized the perception that the administration had squandered a historic opportunity to get business done; that Waterloo -- as Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) threatened -- had indeed happened.
And in that sense, Tuesday's signing ceremony was as much a celebration of the past year as a chance for the administration to breathe a bit easier. Speaking just hours after the president made health care reform the law of the land, David Axelrod -- Obama's closest senior strategist -- was asked about the edge of the precipice upon which this White House once stood.
"Someone said this might be your Waterloo," PBS's Charlie Rose asked. "What happened? You were Wellington and not Napoleon."
"Exactly," Axelrod replied. "I think it all worked out better than anyone anticipated. But way back in the spring, Senator DeMint said if we can just defeat Obama on health care, his presidency will be crippled, and that we'll benefit from that. We don't think that way. We want to move this country forward, and we're willing to work with them to do it."
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