creators.com opinion web
Liberal Opinion General Opinion
David Harsanyi
David Harsanyi
8 Aug 2014
Have You Taken Your Obama Oath?

Jonathan Alter at The Daily Beast has an idea that will infuse the president's "economic patriotism" rhetoric … Read More.

1 Aug 2014
Seriously, What Is John Kerry Doing?

Let's concede for a moment that most of us don't believe the United States should be taking sides in … Read More.

25 Jul 2014
Are Teachers Underpaid? Let's Find Out

A teacher in South Dakota with a bachelor's degree and 10 years of experience earns $33,600 per year, which … Read More.

Are Republicans Abandoning the Obamacare Issue? Doubtful

Comment

In a bit of dubious cherry-picking, a new Bloomberg article concludes that the Affordable Care Act is losing its effectiveness as a political issue for Republicans and is diminishing as a major issue. How do we know the end is near-ish? Well, so many Americans are "benefiting from the law," theorizes Heidi Przybyla, that political ads are simply not doing the job anymore.

This news is somewhat unexpected — and unpersuasive — when you consider that a Kaiser Family Foundation poll recently found that only 15 percent of Americans believe Obamacare has directly helped them, whereas 28 percent say it has directly hurt them. (Fifty-six percent say it has had no effect on their lives.)

Slightly more convincingly, Przybyla offers this bit of evidence: "Republicans seeking to unseat the U.S. Senate incumbent in North Carolina have cut in half the portion of their top issue ads citing Obamacare, a sign that the party's favorite attack against Democrats is losing its punch."

But that's quite an extrapolation, as well — especially when you consider that in her very own story, Przybyla tells us GOP groups have plans to refocus on the ACA as soon as premium increases for 2015 are announced. As with any issue, the political impact of Obamacare is hitched to events surrounding the law. An ebb is not a capitulation. And there will be more Obamacare events.

But even if there weren't, consider that a quarter of political ads running in North Carolina attack Obamacare specifically. This seems to suggest that it's still a comparatively "major issue." Let's put it this way: Is there any other law in the United States that eats up more political space?

Google tells me there isn't. When I use the search engine to wade through news stories regarding the various contested races mentioned in the Bloomberg piece, I find that Obamacare is ubiquitous among Republican candidates — in their stump speeches, in their interviews, on their websites and in their statements. Not so much the Democrats. In Colorado, for example, Republican Cory Gardner is running an ad right now that focuses exclusively on Obamacare and the story of his own family's canceled policies.

And as Gardner points out, 335,000 people had their plans canceled in the state — a state where Quinnipiac found that 60 percent of voters oppose the ACA, with 68 percent of independents, 53 percent of women and 61 percent of people younger than 30.

You know, perhaps focusing 50 percent of your ad dollars on the ACA isn't necessary anyway. It's rather amazing how little the electorate has moved on the issue. According to Kaiser, 53 percent of Americans disapprove of Obamacare. And among independents, 57 percent disapprove. Looks a lot like the way it's looked for years. Whether voters are interested in repealing the law or not, there is no other issue with higher disapproval rates. In my lifetime, I can't recall any domestic law that's been chewed over, litigated, debated and used as a political hammer this intensely this long after passage.

As The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza pointed out a few months back, in New York Times/Kaiser polling on four Southern Senate races, voters were asked, "Is it possible you would ever vote for a candidate who does not share your views on the 2010 health care law, or is this issue so important that you would not vote for a candidate who disagrees with you?" In North Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas and Kentucky, majorities said they would not.

The distress over the law is embedded into the debate. It was inevitable that Republicans would expand their attacks beyond Obamacare. With the economy, immigration or energy — and the array of more customized themes that state races typically focus on — there seems to be plenty of fodder for battleground candidates. Yet the idea that Obamacare's potency as a Republican issue is on the verge of expiration is a lingering wish that will never come to pass. And if you've heard about the Obamacare retreat before, it's because it's nothing new. Politico led the way with a story in 2013, "GOP quietly backing away from Obamacare," and similar predictions of the pending surrender on the ACA go back years. Yet here we are.

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist and the author of "The People Have Spoken (and They Are Wrong): The Case Against Democracy." Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi. To find out more about David Harsanyi and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM



Comments

0 Comments | Post Comment
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
David Harsanyi
Aug. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Lawrence Kudlow
Lawrence KudlowUpdated 23 Aug 2014
Mark Levy
Mark LevyUpdated 23 Aug 2014
Brent Bozell

4 Jun 2009 Taxpayers Should Look to Colorado

11 Mar 2010 Internet Tax a Bad Idea

31 Jan 2014 Overestimating 'Inequality'