In looking ahead to this fall’s elections, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to view a candidate’s position on the Affordable Care Act as very important to their vote. A new national survey [Pew Research Center and USA TODAY] finds that 64% of Republican registered voters say a candidate’s stance on the health care law will be very important in their voting decision, compared with 52% of Democrats and 45% of independents.Greg Sargent finds an interesting angle to this: While a minority of Republicans say the law has affected them personally in a negative way (39 percent), they believe in huge numbers that it is hurting the country overall (69 percent) or will harm the whole country (73 percent). There isn't any rationality at all to this, just a lot of intense hatred of the law. That's the intense hatred that has been driving Republican voters to the polls since 2010. And it's why the fringe support for repeal has been ruling the Republican Party.
It puts Republicans currently in office in a tough spot. Their base is telling them repeal and repeal only. But at this point, with 7.5 million signed up for new private insurance plans (which you know insurers are celebrating) and millions more covered through Medicaid and other means, they can't just take it all way. They can't take away all the protections and benefits that everyone with health insurance now enjoys because of the law, so they have to continue with the farce that they'll come up with some magical replacement plan that does all the things Obamacare does but isn't Obamacare.
This Obamacare intensity gap—as Sargent calls it—along with the general 2014 map and the tendency of the Democratic base to underperform in midterms means it's a tough climb for Democrats. But as Markos points out, the key for Democrats might actually be Obamacare. The repeal position is still intense, but it's losing numbers as more and more people move into the "keep it and fix it" camp.
Running on Obamacare, running on Medicaid expansion, running against Republicans for trying so hard to take health care away from people is looking more and more like smart strategy.