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Florida loss exposes Democrats' disarray on Obamacare
Politico ^ | 3/12/14 | JAKE SHERMAN and BURGESS EVERETT

Posted on 03/12/2014 7:03:23 PM PDT by Second Amendment First

Democrats can’t 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 Jolly’s 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 didn’t 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 he’s uncomfortable with his party’s health care message, and added that you “can’t, 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 what’s good about it and say what we are willing to change.

But illustrating the tension, Martha McSally, Barber’s opponent, appeared at a closed House Republican Conference meeting Wednesday, saying she’s “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 president’s party appeared to run from questions about it Wednesday.

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) — one of the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbents — twice waved off a reporter’s questions. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who will likely face GOP Rep. Cory Gardner in November, said he would prefer to answer a reporter’s 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 law’s approval ratings won’t rebound by the time voters go to the polls in November. Even more significantly, they fear the law’s unpopularity — along with President Barack Obama’s flagging approval ratings — could keep Democrats home in November, according to conversations with several top lawmakers and aides.

Republicans seem to think they’ve struck political gold, but Democrats aren’t 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 Sink’s defeat to flood insurance legislation, which played a minor role compared to Jolly’s 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. Jolly’s victory over Sink, while not a definitive measure of the political climate, is not a good sign for Obama’s 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 president’s 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 there’s only one issue. I think they’re wrong — I think they’re going to find that horse won’t cross the finish line.”

Meanwhile, Republicans are giddy and say that the special election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District validates their singular focus on undermining, repealing and altering Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

It’s 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.

“I’m not nervous because I sleep easy at night knowing I cast the right vote,” Rahall said. “And I’m 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.

It’s not only Democrats in red states who are using sharp language to criticize the law. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon called his state’s health exchange an “unmitigated disaster” and said he’s 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 Obama’s 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 would’ve 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 should’ve 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, didn’t discuss changing health care messaging at a closed party meeting. One Democratic source at the meeting said members were privately “angry and disgruntled.”


TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 03/12/2014 7:03:23 PM PDT by Second Amendment First
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To: Second Amendment First

Yes, and they know it, and LIED about it. Along with their complicit choir in the media.


2 posted on 03/12/2014 7:06:15 PM PDT by EagleUSA
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To: EagleUSA

Haha. Bury those DIMs! But don’t forget the RINOs.


3 posted on 03/12/2014 7:11:18 PM PDT by hal ogen (First Amendment or Reeducation Camp?)
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To: Second Amendment First
There is no question that Obamacare is a liability for the rats. But there is 8 months before the elections, an eternity in politics. Less than 8 months ago, every pundit in the air was reading the death knell of the republican party because of the "government shutdown." Remember? So who knows what could happen, especially in foreign affairs, in the next 6-8 months.
4 posted on 03/12/2014 7:16:38 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: EagleUSA

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.


5 posted on 03/12/2014 7:19:09 PM PDT by A message
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To: EagleUSA

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.


6 posted on 03/12/2014 7:21:08 PM PDT by plain talk
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To: Second Amendment First

Cement shoes. Only the stupidity of the Gelded Old Pansies can save them.


7 posted on 03/12/2014 7:22:03 PM PDT by VRWC For Truth (Roberts has perverted the Constitution)
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To: Second Amendment First

But the republicans would have won even bigger if Obamacare was not so popular!


8 posted on 03/12/2014 7:26:09 PM PDT by Mr. K (If you like your constitution, you can keep it...Period.)
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To: Second Amendment First

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.


9 posted on 03/12/2014 7:29:07 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: Second Amendment First

WasherWoman Schultz (”I know NOTHING!”) didn’t help in the campaign?


10 posted on 03/12/2014 7:31:01 PM PDT by Paladin2
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To: Second Amendment First

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.


11 posted on 03/12/2014 7:31:34 PM PDT by mrsmith (Dumb sluts: Lifeblood of the Media, Backbone of the Democrat Party!)
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To: mrsmith

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.


12 posted on 03/12/2014 7:40:02 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: Second Amendment First

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.


13 posted on 03/12/2014 8:02:36 PM PDT by Kenny
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To: Second Amendment First
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 what’s good about it and say what we are willing to change.

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.

14 posted on 03/12/2014 8:03:04 PM PDT by randita
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To: Second Amendment First

Jolly vs. Sink

Well I do think the Rat may have had an image problem :-)


15 posted on 03/12/2014 8:04:17 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (Embrace the Lion of Judah and He will roar for you and teach you to roar too. See my page.)
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To: Second Amendment First
Some senior members of the party say the defeat in a district President Barack Obama won twice means nothing...

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...

16 posted on 03/12/2014 8:04:31 PM PDT by GOPJ (From a bellwether to an "oh-whateverrrr" in less than a single news cycle. -freeper Fightin Whitey)
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To: goldstategop

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.


17 posted on 03/12/2014 8:04:53 PM PDT by mrsmith (Dumb sluts: Lifeblood of the Media, Backbone of the Democrat Party!)
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To: A message
“But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it”

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?

18 posted on 03/12/2014 8:09:21 PM PDT by GOPJ (From a bellwether to an "oh-whateverrrr" in less than a single news cycle. -freeper Fightin Whitey)
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To: Second Amendment First
Democrats can’t even agree whether Obamacare was the reason for their crushing loss in a Florida special election Tuesday.

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.

19 posted on 03/12/2014 8:28:39 PM PDT by Bon of Babble (Don't want to brag...but I can still fit into the earrings I wore in high school!!)
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To: Second Amendment First
"Republican lobbyist David Jolly’s victory over Democrat Alex Sink"

Can't get off that Democrat talking point "lobbyist", can you politico?

20 posted on 03/12/2014 8:33:18 PM PDT by Darth Reardon (Is it any wonder I'm not the president?)
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To: Second Amendment First

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.


21 posted on 03/12/2014 8:33:47 PM PDT by Bluestocking
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To: Second Amendment First

“Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) even suggested Democrats talk about “what we should’ve 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.


22 posted on 03/12/2014 9:37:07 PM PDT by Rembrandt (Part of the 51% who pay Federal taxes)
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To: Rembrandt

Yes, and after being impeached as a federal judge, THEN he gets elected to Congress...and re-elected...


23 posted on 03/12/2014 9:45:12 PM PDT by ripnbang ("An armed man is a citizen, an unarmed man a subject")
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To: Second Amendment First

Scott Brown is running for NH with the backing of Howie Carr.


24 posted on 03/13/2014 4:28:46 PM PDT by ObamahatesPACoal
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