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“If the opposite decision had come out, a lot of Democrats would likely be feeling that much of their activity during the Obama administration’s first two years had gone to waste,” said Seth Masket, an associate professor of political science at the University of Denver, who argued in a study that 13 House Democrats lost their seats in 2010 as a result solely of voting for the health care legislation.

The president joked this spring about the possibility of the court overturning his primary achievement. At the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, he said, “In my first term, we passed health care reform; in my second term, I guess I’ll pass it again.”

Democratic strategists now are feeling emboldened that the Supreme Court under conservative Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has aided Mr. Obama’s agenda.

“The late decisions by the Supreme Court this summer leaves the GOP’s agenda in tatters,” said Simon Rosenberg, president of NDN, a Democratic think tank in Washington. “Their efforts to overturn two administration efforts - immigration and health care reform - have failed. Obama comes out of this week much stronger, the Republicans weaker. His first term will now be seen as consequential, their opposition feckless.”

The ruling also promised to boost campaign fundraising.

The Romney campaign reported raising about $1 million in the first three hours after the decision was announced. Obama campaign manager Jim Messina sent out a fundraising email to supporters 90 minutes before the ruling was made public, telling potential donors that Thursday was “an important day to have Barack Obama’s back.”