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The Divide & Conquer Election of 2012


Dianne G. Bystrom, Mary C. Banwart and Mitchell S. McKinney

alieNATION presents research conducted by a national election team and leading scholars in political communication that explores a range of important topics and variables affecting voter attitudes and behavior in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
In exploring the messages, issues, and voters of the 2012 election, these studies employ multiple methods including experimental design, content analysis, rhetorical criticism, and survey research. Whereas other election research tends to investigate either the content or effects of campaign communication, the more comprehensive and systematic nature of this collection enables alieNATION to cohere thematically around considerations of voter alienation, political engagement, political efficacy, and ultimately, citizens’ voting decisions.
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Chapter Seven: Health Care Reform: Core Value Differences Between Liberal and Conservative Candidates and Voters


← 115 | 116 → CHAPTER SEVEN


When President Barack Obama made health care reform his first term priority, he also set the stage for his re-election campaign. Both Obama, and his challenger—former Gov. Mitt Romney—relied heavily on the issue in their appeals to voters. So, when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), both campaigns were ready to pounce. It was at the end of June 2012, with the election looming, when the Supreme Court issued its ruling. Chief Justice John Roberts announced that the PPACA, passed by Congress and signed into law two years earlier by Obama, was indeed constitutional.

Reaction from both sides was swift. Obama hailed the decision as a victory for families and sought to frame the policy as providing a measure of economic security. “Here in America, in the wealthiest nation on earth, no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin” (Mears and Cohen, 2012, p. 1). Meanwhile, Romney vowed to undo the law, stating, “What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day as president of the United States.” For Romney, PPACA was an economic burden and Republicans sought to frame the issue as a tax increase (Zeleny, 2012, p. 1).

Interest groups also jumped into action. For example, within 24 hours of the Supreme Court’s...

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