Skip to comments.Florida loss exposes Democrats' disarray on Obamacare
Posted on 03/12/2014 7:03:23 PM PDT by Second Amendment First
Democrats cant even agree whether Obamacare was the reason for their crushing loss in a Florida special election Tuesday.
Now picture how their messaging plan for the health care law is shaping up for 2014.
Republican lobbyist David Jollys victory over Democrat Alex Sink has many Democrats privately worried and publicly split about how to talk about Obamacare.
(Also on POLITICO: Full health care policy coverage)
A few Democrats are advocating a drastic rhetorical shift to the left, by criticizing their own party for not going far enough when it passed the law in 2010.
Other Democrats plan to sharply criticize the Affordable Care Act when running for re-election.
Many plan to stick to the simple message that Obamacare is flawed and needs to be fixed a tactic that plainly didnt work for Sink.
Taken together, the Democratic Party is heading into an already tough election year divided instead of united on the very issue Republicans plan to make central to their campaigns.
The political tug of Obamacare is neatly encapsulated by Rep. Ron Barber, a Democrat who holds a Tucson, Ariz., area seat. Barber said hes uncomfortable with his partys health care message, and added that you cant, with a straight face, stand up and say this is a perfect bill. He wishes Democrats would be willing to be honest about this legislation and to be willing to point out, and not be defensive, and say whats good about it and say what we are willing to change.
But illustrating the tension, Martha McSally, Barbers opponent, appeared at a closed House Republican Conference meeting Wednesday, saying shes on offense against Obamacare, and the Florida results prove her race is winnable.
(Also on POLITICO: Who says lobbyists can't win?)
Vulnerable members of the presidents party appeared to run from questions about it Wednesday.
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) one of the Senates most vulnerable incumbents twice waved off a reporters questions. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who will likely face GOP Rep. Cory Gardner in November, said he would prefer to answer a reporters question by phone to offer a coherent response. But his aides did not later make him available for an interview.
Democrats are concerned the health care laws approval ratings wont rebound by the time voters go to the polls in November. Even more significantly, they fear the laws unpopularity along with President Barack Obamas flagging approval ratings could keep Democrats home in November, according to conversations with several top lawmakers and aides.
Republicans seem to think theyve struck political gold, but Democrats arent even sure how to interpret the loss. A veteran Democratic fundraiser called the loss a double whammy, hurting the party with major donors and energizing Republicans. Some senior members of the party say the defeat in a district President Barack Obama won twice means nothing, and Democrats should not fret. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who is likely to have a tight race in November, attributed Sinks defeat to flood insurance legislation, which played a minor role compared to Jollys nearly singular focus on the health care law.
(Florida special election results)
This all comes as Democrats and Republicans are gearing up for a brutal battle for control of Congress this fall. Jollys victory over Sink, while not a definitive measure of the political climate, is not a good sign for Obamas party as voters head to the ballot box in less than eight months. Republicans are expected to make some gains in the midterms, but the results in Florida show Democrats could be facing stiffer headwinds than they thought in protecting their five-seat majority in the Senate and chipping away at Republican control of the House.
Every off-year election, with the exception of two in our history, has been rough on the presidents party. And last night in Florida was no exception, said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who is expected to cruise to victory in his reelection bid this November. Republicans have decided theres only one issue. I think theyre wrong I think theyre going to find that horse wont cross the finish line.
Meanwhile, Republicans are giddy and say that the special election in Floridas 13th Congressional District validates their singular focus on undermining, repealing and altering Obamas signature legislative achievement.
Its risky business to overanalyze the results of a special election: Turnout tends to be low and, in this case, voters are eight months ahead of a midterm election that has not yet taken full shape. Each race is different this Florida district was overwhelmingly white and local issues will also play a major role.
But the hand-wringing over the impact of Obamacare , and the dissonance in party strategy, illustrates the difficulties Democrats face in presenting a unified front.
For example, longtime West Virginia Rep. Nick Rahall said he tells voters in West Virginia that no one not even conservative Texas Sen. Ted Cruz would repeal the law as president. He said he emphasizes his votes to change Obamacare.
Im not nervous because I sleep easy at night knowing I cast the right vote, Rahall said. And Im not going to sway with the political winds with out-of-state billionaires who are trying to buy a congressional seat.
Similar to Rahall, Sen. Mark Begich, an Alaska Democrat, said he will be very aggressive in pressing for further fixes to the law.
Its not only Democrats in red states who are using sharp language to criticize the law. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon called his states health exchange an unmitigated disaster and said hes worked to extend its enrollment deadline and has tried to prevent constituents from losing their current health care plans.
However, most Senate Democrats dismissed the implication that the results in one congressional district should spur a complete shakeup of party strategy in the battle to retain the majority.
Electoral strategy is not my concern, said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, who could face former Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown in November. My concern is making sure every American has the security of quality, affordable health care. I will continue working to make the law better.
A Democratic aide said Obamas low approval rating may drag more on Democrats than the health care law.
Most senior House Democrats said the party should not change course at all, and the special election results meant little.
Demographics is destiny, California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman said in an interview. This was not as good a district as one wouldve thought it might be because of how it performed in a presidential year.
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) even suggested Democrats talk about what we shouldve done in the first place single payer, he said, referring to a far more progressive option for health care reform. Asked if Obamacare would turn out loyal Democrats this fall, he said, No, no, no. Not at all.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), for her part, didnt discuss changing health care messaging at a closed party meeting. One Democratic source at the meeting said members were privately angry and disgruntled.
Yes, and they know it, and LIED about it. Along with their complicit choir in the media.
Haha. Bury those DIMs! But don’t forget the RINOs.
The “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it” Democrats CAN NOT RUN, HIDE OR LIE their way out of the crap sandwich they gave America.
The Socialist scumbag lying, deceiving Democrat chickens are coming home to roost.
Yes! I thought the same thing. You can’t judge what they are thinking based on what they say because all they do is lie.
Cement shoes. Only the stupidity of the Gelded Old Pansies can save them.
But the republicans would have won even bigger if Obamacare was not so popular!
We gave the Democrats a pass on their strongest terrain. It was a good tactical decision, even though many conservatives had been spoiling for a fight we would have lost anyway.
Now this election will be fought on the Democrats’ most vulnerable issue: Obamacare. Its a loser for them all around and they’re struggling to defend an unpopular law they voted for. There’s no way to fix it without undermining it.
I just relish the fact that no upsides are apparent for them here. Its shaping up to be another GOP good “wave” year like in 2010.
WasherWoman Schultz (”I know NOTHING!”) didn’t help in the campaign?
POLITICO is lying again.
What this race showed was the disaster Dems face if the GOPe goes all out in support of conservative candidates they don’t like and don’t want.
The GOPe couldn’t sulk and back-bite when Jolly won the chance to run, this race was too important. So they worked as hard as they could for him, and got a big win.
Onamacare didn’t lose this race for the Dems. Conservatives and RINOs working together did.
Obamacare is an issue because it isn’t working. When the Democrats are running away from it, that tells one all one needs to know.
And the “fix it” approach flopped big time in a Florida swing district.
Remember, its Obama’s signature achievement and its going down the tubes.
Not to be cynical but I remember not too long ago when no one believed O could be re-elected. Lesson, there’s a huge group of losers out there who look to their smartphone for direction.
Honest like they were when they said "if you like your plan, you can keep it"?
They sold the whole idea through outright lies. How can they be trusted now to tell the truth about changing it?
But I do hope they take this line of defense, because it is so easy to poke holes in.
Jolly vs. Sink
Well I do think the Rat may have had an image problem :-)
If the reporter can't get a name or two on record he needs to leave it out. Too many reporters just make this stuff up...
Their “fix Obamacare (with more money)” meme will improve and be better bolstered by the media before November.
But that won’t do them any good if the GOPe joins with conservatives.
This race proved it.
And if the GOPe doesm’t go all out for conservative candidates the Dem/media ‘fix Obamacare (with more money)’ meme WILL be successful.
The Cuccinelli race proved that.
POLITICO is feeding agitprop. Look at the facts, not the narrative.
We found out what's in it - it's a toxic stew, costs a fortune and doesn't provide health care.
Why wouldn't people trust democrats after that piece of work?
They're wondering why voter fraud didn't work in this election -- and they're going to make sure it works for the 2014 mid-terms.
Can't get off that Democrat talking point "lobbyist", can you politico?
If the Democrats couldn’t win yesterday’s race even after spending $10 million on it — four times what the Republicans spent — how will they be able to win their other races when far less money will be allocated per race?
Not to mention that Alex Sink didn’t even have to defend her ObamaCare vote since she didn’t vote for it. Imagine the angry earfuls Democrats who DID vote for it will be hearing from their constituents as the election year heats up.
“Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) even suggested Democrats talk about what we shouldve done in the first place single payer, he said, referring to a far more progressive option for health care reform. Asked if Obamacare would turn out loyal Democrats this fall, he said, No, no, no. Not at all.
A true model for the Democrat party, that’s Alcee Hastings, Dimocrat of Florida. Heard his name before? Google judges accepting bribes get impeached - that’s Alcee Hastings.
Yes, and after being impeached as a federal judge, THEN he gets elected to Congress...and re-elected...
Scott Brown is running for NH with the backing of Howie Carr.