Date of Award

Spring 2011

Project Type


Program or Major

Political Science

Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Dante Scala


Usually the will of the people is reflected in public policy on such a salient issue as health care. This was the case with Medicare in 1965 and President Clinton's health care reform efforts in 1993--4. However, this was not the case in 2010, when President Obama's health care plan was passed despite 53 percent of the American people being against it.

The subject of this case study is the anomaly that was the 2009--2010 health care reform debate and vote. The relationship between public opinion and public policy is explored, and a narrative of the 2009--2010 health care debate is presented.

The conclusion describes the passage of the health care bill, despite public opinion being against it, as being the result of the convergence of many factors, especially ideology, elite cues, polarization, and a strong sense of urgency, which came together in a perfect storm of events.