April 20th, 2014
11:12 AM ET
8 months ago

Will GOP’s focus on Obamacare pay off in 2014 midterms?

(CNN) - Nonpartisan political handicapper Stuart Rothenberg said Sunday it's hard to imagine Republicans can run entirely on a platform against Obamacare from now until the November midterm elections.

"I think the cake has been baked on the (Affordable Care Act)," Rothenberg said on CNN's "State of the Union." "I don't think there are a bunch of people changing their opinions now."

He acknowledged that campaigns in the past have gone big on a simple message – e.g. "It's the economy, stupid" from Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign - but he said Republicans will need to do more this cycle than just train their fire against Obamacare.

"That's a fine message, (but) they've got to talk about growth and jobs, and what the President does or has not done," he added.

CNN: Key races to watch in 2014

Sean Spicer, the communications director for the Republican National Committee, indicated on the same program that Republicans have no plans to back away from their main line of attack.

"It's clear that Obamacare is still the No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 issue going into this election," he told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley. He pointed to Democrats who are running in competitive Senate races - most of them in red or purple states - who have made blatant efforts to distance themselves from the health care law.

Republicans also cite the recent special House election in Florida, won by the Republican nominee, who focused largely on attacking Obamacare.

But President Barack Obama is telling his party not to give up. In announcing last week that 8 million Americans had signed up for insurance through the marketplaces, he called on Democrats to "forcefully defend and be proud" of the law.

"I don't think we should apologize for it. I don't think we should be defensive about it. I think there is a strong, good, right story to tell," Obama told reporters Thursday.

While that may be good advice for Democrats running in solidly Democratic districts or states, it's a "dangerous game" for Democrats running in places that are less blue, said Rothenberg, who's the editor and publisher of the Rothenberg Political Report.

"They're trying to really finesse the race where they're running as independent Democrats, not national Democrats," he said, adding that "talking about the President's premiere national accomplishment" may not be the best strategy.

Complete coverage of the 2014 midterm elections

Mo Elleithee, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, argued that Republicans are going to hurt themselves by maintaining the battle to repeal Obamacare.

"The one thing that is much more unpopular than the Affordable Care Act is repealing the Affordable Care Act," Elleithee said on CNN. "And people are tired of the fight."

The Republican-controlled House has voted at least 50 times to undo or alter the health care law. That's a record that Democrats highlight when defending the ACA. They say that while the law needs some improvements, making those fixes is better than repealing the law entirely.

"The repeal debate is and should be over," Obama said last week.

But what does the polling really say?

Most nonpartisan surveys still show that more Americans oppose the new health care law than support it.

However, when asked about repealing or replacing Obamacare, Americans are more split on the issue. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released last month showed 49% opposed Republican efforts to replace the new health care law, while 47% supported them.

A separate Pew Research Center survey in March indicated that among those who disapprove of the law (53% of adults nationwide), 30% said they believe elected officials should do what they can to make the law work as well as it can, while 19% said they should try to make the law fail.


Filed under: 2014 • Obamacare
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. Namek

    It is strange that the GOP is so opposed to more people obtaining health care insurance. It is almost as if they think they are defending a snobby exclusive club from the riffraff.

    April 20, 2014 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  2. Jere

    Everyone knows the GOP is going to take back the senate if we like it or not.

    April 20, 2014 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  3. Bubba

    The GOP should not focus on their failures:
    1) Obamacare – which is still growing despite the GOP drawing a line in the sand.
    2) Equal Pay for Women – which the GOP opposes, because they see women as second class citizens.
    3) Government Shutdown – which hurt more Republicans who own businesses than anyone else.
    4) Gay Marriage – which was not legal anywhere until the GOP put their foot down.
    5) Legalized Pot – which the GOP was going to stop, until everyone lit up and turned off FOX News.
    6) Gutting the Voting Rights Act – where the GOP has alienated non-white legal registered voters who will vote now.
    The GOP should find some new talking point, however, without focusing on their failures; the GOP has little else to talk about. What a bunch of losers.

    April 20, 2014 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  4. J Anthony

    I'm sorry, but those commenters here who lean right, you are howling at the wind. Get past your hatred for a minute and think: neither party is going to solve problems, that's not what they do. These pols today are more like maintenance facilitators for the most powerful bankers and business interests. They are there to perpetuate the status quo and play power games with eachother,distracting the citizenry, pitting us against eachhother, and more often than not, making things worse. If any of you understood how the monetary and credit system actually worked, u may 4get to hate Obama for a second and set your sights where they belongs.

    April 20, 2014 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  5. Sonny

    GOP's Focus ??? I'd say its America's focus !!

    April 20, 2014 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  6. jillib

    The republicans have had over 15 years to come up with a health care alternative – ever since the Clinton administration and Hillary's health care plan. Yet they have not. They have wasted the last 4 years with pointless repeal attempt after pointless repeal attempt. They still don't have a replacement. The problem for republicans is, their health care plan IS the ACA. The republicans all hot air, they're incompetent, they're completely incapable creating legislation that benefits the majority of Americans. I'm voting to move the country forward – I won't be voting for republicans.

    April 21, 2014 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  7. gustifer53

    NO!! It won't work because the Republicans and The Tea Party are extreme, insane and their voters are going to turn blue because of it. plus with all the Voter Suppression gerrymandering and being uncaring towards all of there voters that aren't in the upper 1% will be the KARMA that will kill both Party's. They have also managed to wake up the Blue machine, Democrats will have record numbers of voters come to the poles. You can bet they won't be voting RED. I love it that these selfish self center pukes are destroying their Party's and care to do nothing about it. Bobby Jindal was right, Your Party's are the stupid ones...

    April 21, 2014 05:07 am at 5:07 am |
  8. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    8 million Americans have already said"NO" and the count is growing everyday.

    April 21, 2014 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  9. kerrypenn49

    Only the low intellect or the obama worshippers can not see that obamacare is a con, a scam, it is a way to force big government on us to control and run our affairs.
    Only a fool will buy into this destructive scheme of obama's to do as much damage to the U.S. as possible.
    Ask yourself what has this obama done to benefit the U.S. and what has he done to harm. discredit, divide, increase the debt, and decrease the morality of the U.S.?

    April 21, 2014 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  10. Free Man in the Republic of TEXAS

    OBAMACARE "Pay Off"

    Oh,,,,
    You mean the Mary Mary Loretta Landrieu
    the senior United States Senator (D)
    from the State of Louisiana

    AKA:
    The Louisiana Purchase vote that put
    OBAMACARE over the top !!!

    Classic Chicago "Pay to Play"

    You MUST remember that the
    Lib / Progressive / Democrat UTOPIA-NIRVANA end
    is justified by ANY and ALL means.

    WE are FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
    Resistance is futile.
    You will be assimilated into "The Collective"

    April 21, 2014 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
1 2 3