Should the GOP run on ObamaCare repeal?
After the Supreme Court’s disappointing ObamaCare decision, many of us are wondering what political ramifications will follow. Just days of the the High Court handed down the decision, polls don’t show much of a bump for President Barack Obama and voters still favor repeal of the law.
And that’s exactly what Republicans say they plan to do if they manage to take control of Congress and take back the White House this fall. But over at the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza asks if the push for repeal is a good political move:
There is some initial data to back up that sentiment. In a USA Today/Gallup poll, a majority favored either total repeal of the law by Congress (31 percent) or repeal of some portions of the law (21 percent). Just 38 percent wanted to see Congress expand the law or leave it as is.
Despite that poll, Democrats insist there is ample evidence that suggests that voters, whether or not they like the health care law, do not want to re-litigate the political fight that led to its passage. That’s why virtually every Democrat in a swing or Republican leaning state — Bob Kerrey in Nebraska, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota — put out a statement after the ruling that condemned the partisan fight that has come to define the law, rather than getting into any specifics of the law itself.
The clash of political strategies is a fascinating one. Republicans simply believe that the more Democrats have to talk about (and defend) a law that remains unpopular in the eyes of many Americans, the better for their side politically. Democrats counter that calls for repeal play into a preexisting notion about the extreme view of Congressional Republicans — an image that is all to the good as voters seek to make up their minds this fall.
Which side is right? It’s possible that both are.
On the presidential level, taking his eye off the economy for even a second spoils hurt Romney. That is why he’s likely to spend the vast majority of his time on the campaign trail between now and November talking not about the health care law, but about the fiscal health of the country.
But in downballot contests, it’s possible that the “repeal” message could have some resonance as it allows Republican candidates to aggressively link less-defined Democrats to a president who is not terribly popular in Republican-leaning states. While the economy remains the overarching issue in every race, that sort of association — whether on health care or any other hot button issue — is bad news for the likes of Kerrey and Heitkamp.
While it’s true that the most important in the coming election is the economy, ObamaCare will also play a significant role. Romney has already signaled that he isn’t willing to fight it, but this has been the case on other issues, such as the Arizona immigration ruling. Romney also has the misfortune of being the architect of ObamaCare, which hurts his credibility on the issue. Romney will hit Obama on the health care issue, but it’s not going to be as nearly as significant as his message on the economy.
But the health care reform law will most certainly play a part in Senate, especially those that Republicans hope to pick up in their quest for a majority. Remember, they only need a net-four seats to take control, and Nebraska and North Dakota are certainly on that list. Other potential pickups include Missouri, where Sen. Claire McCaskill has had to run from her party. Montana is another possible pickup for the GOP, where Sen. Jon Tester faces many of the same problems as McCaskill. Seats in Florida and Virginia, though a greater challenge for the GOP, are also in play.
No, it’s the only message, but repealing ObamaCare certainly has its place in the fall campaigns, and at least for now, voters still agree favor repeal. And I suspect that if the economy inches closer to a recession, it would make undoing President Obama’s economic agenda, including the health care law, will become part of a mandate for Republicans.