Republicans need to win a net of just six seats next year to talk control of the Senate. While their chances seemed relatively low in the wake of the government shutdown, the problems surrounding Obamacare may have given them a much needed lift.
That’s not lost on Senate Democrats. They now get the sense that their majority could be in jeopardy due to the glitches with the federal insurance exchange website and millions of cancellation notices sent to consumers that are a direct result of Obamacare. Needless to say, they’re in a panic (emphasis added):
Democratic senators from red states — the most vulnerable incumbents up for reelection next year — voted for Obamacare and have been among the law’s biggest champions, believing that voters would embrace it once they experienced its benefits. They could end up being some of the law’s most prominent casualties if its unpopularity continues to grow.
If voters continue experiencing problems like a balky website, canceled policies and higher premiums, the fallout could be brutal next November, Democrats acknowledge.
For that reason, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) issued some blunt advice to the administration: “Fix it.”
Democrats are clearly anxious to see the issue resolved because their most at-risk senators in 2014 voted for the measure on Christmas Eve 2009. Those Democrats — Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina — all have defended the law in the face of GOP attacks. But their frustration with the White House is showing, whether it’s Pryor and Hagan backing an extension of Obamacare’s enrollment period, Landrieu proposing legislation to ensure insurance policyholders won’t lose their existing coverage or Begich voicing his fury with the White House.
The White House is trying to change the narrative back to the gridlock in Washington and the recent government shutdown, according to the article. But that’s no longer a relevant story. The news of the last few weeks has focused on the Obamacare disaster, and they’re not going to be able to change that, nor will Senate Democrats in red states be able to run from it.
Keep in mind that all of these vulnerable Democrats — Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Kay Hagan (D-NC) — voted for Obamacare. They also voted for the strictly written grandfather rules that are causing people to lose their health insurance.
The Obama Administration may be responsible for poor implementation, but every single one of these Democrats owns Obamacare and all of its glitches, problems, cancellation letters, and premium increases. They went along with this law at every step.
Even if the administration manages to get the website fixed before the end of this month, as they’ve pledged, cancellation letters and insurance premiums will still rise. That’s not going to sit well with voters represented by red state Democrats.
As of today, Republicans can probably bank on picking up three Senate seats in three states currently held by Democrats — Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. They only need three more seats from traditionally red states to gain the majority, assuming they don’t lose any seats they currently control.
This isn’t to say that Republicans are going to coast to re-election in those remaining states. Democrats are going to pour in resources to these states in an effort to keep their majority. The GOP will need electable candidates who can effectively promote healthcare alternatives to voters.