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Obamacare Isn’t Going Away as Campaign Issue

Latest media meme is just as phony as its predecessors.

By 8.25.14

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall
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In an obvious attempt to help the Democrats preserve their Senate majority, the “reporters” of the legacy news media have been hard at work promoting a new Obamacare meme. The Los Angeles Times assisted in the launch of this propaganda campaign early this month with a piece titled, “Obamacare loses some of its campaign punch for Republicans.” The evidence provided by the article’s authors in support of this claim consists primarily of a July study involving GOP advertising: “The percentage of broadcast television ads focused on Obamacare dipped in the spring, according to a study conducted by Kantar Media/CMAG.”

This unremarkable fact has since been gleefully reported by countless “news” outlets as if it constitutes a tectonic shift in the dynamics of the midterm election cycle. The Washington Post parroted the party line thus: “Obamacare disappearing as major issue.” Salon breathlessly announced, “GOP surrenders on Obamacare.” Bloomberg chimed in with a piece titled, “Obamacare Losing Power as Campaign Weapon in Ad Battles.” The latter provides a helpful quote from a doubtlessly objective political science professor, Andrew Taylor of North Carolina State University, who opines that Obamacare “isn’t the kind of issue it was.”

The voters didn’t get that memo. They revile the health care law more than ever. Even the left-leaning Huffington Post admits, “A majority of Americans disapprove of Obamacare, the highest share since President Barack Obama's health care reforms became law more than four years ago.” And this isn’t due to ignorance about the law, as its supporters frequently claim. The voters have been inundated with information about “reform,” and they have correctly concluded that it will do more harm than good. A recent Rasmussen survey reveals that likely voters in general expect Obamacare to have an adverse effect on American health care.

More to the point, Obamacare is an important factor in the “enthusiasm gap.” According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, “The Republican Party holds a clear advantage in voter engagement in this fall’s midterm elections.” Why? The answer has long been obvious. Politico spelled it out months ago: “Obamacare will be a huge voting issue for Republicans.… They’ll turn out in droves because they hate the law.” Yet the promoters of the new meme would have us believe that revulsion among voters for the law has somehow been neutralized as a motivating force during the past two or three months.

How precisely would that happen? The general idea seems to be that, now that it has been implemented, Obamacare is providing all manner of benefits to vast hordes of real people who have discovered that Republican claims about the law have been hopelessly disingenuous. This argument is explicitly made in an MSNBC article titled, “Are Obamacare attack ads a thing of the past?” Its author rather clumsily states the case as follows: “As it turns out, now that Obamacare is a real thing and not just some scary death panel laden cooked up Republican nightmare, it actually doesn’t pack so much punch politically for Republicans.”

Thus, GOP candidates would be foolish to attack their opponents for supporting a “successful” law. One Republican who has failed to heed these words of wisdom is Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner, who is challenging Democrat Mark Udall for his Senate seat. Gardner has recently released an ad highlighting Udall’s promises on behalf of “reform”: “When Mark Udall voted for Obamacare, he promised us, if we liked our healthcare plan we could keep it. Well, you know how that worked out.” As the Washington Times reports, “Gardner knows a thing or two about cancelled policies. His family’s insurance plan was among those discontinued.”

Gardner’s tactics notwithstanding, there has indeed been a decline in the number of GOP television ads mentioning Obamacare. However, despite the claims made in the above-noted outlets and many others, this development is actually bad news for the Democrats. Republican Senate candidates have been running fewer such ads of late because the sale has already been closed. The voters who make up the GOP base will be at the polls in November, anxious to pull the lever for any candidate who shares their intense disapprobation for Obamacare. And, as at least one survey suggests, many independents will be joining them.

This is why the Democrats have worked so hard to frighten their base into turning out for the midterms in larger numbers than is their wont. It is why they have made so much of the fictitious “war on women.” It is why the Obama Justice Department and the Democrat governor of Missouri have deliberately exacerbated the racial tensions sparked by the Michael Brown shooting. And it is why their media enablers continue to concoct fables about Obamacare. But the voters need to keep their eyes on the prize. For the sake of the Republic, the Democrats need to be banished to the back benches of the Senate in November.

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About the Author

David Catron is a health care consultant. He has an MBA from the University of Georgia and blogs at Health Care BS.