April 20th, 2014
11:12 AM ET
5 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. Gurgyl

    --yes, this Obamacare is a dire need of the century in USA. ACA IS A LAW. Period. It is saving millions of people. Yes, ultimately this costs will come down with lower deductions. I bet GOP is bribed by insurance thugs–so only lot of commotions and hullabaloo for no reason. GOP is gone to dogs.

    April 20, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  2. ada ada

    "They're trying to really finesse the race where they're running as independent Democrats, not national Democrats,"

    Stu Rothenberg, These Democrats are trying to Run Away and Hide from the Votes They Cast for the Trvaesty called BHOcare...

    So Stu, That ain't "Independence"..That;s just crass political posturing that Only Phonies are Known to Do....lol

    April 20, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  3. GOP = Greed Over People

    Yep, the same way Bill Ayres and Reverend Wright did in 2008.

    Some folks can never tell, when the rest of us have moved on.

    April 20, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  4. Gunderson

    Well,
    Obama Care may be here to stay but so is high unemployment, high food prices, and a huge assortment of problems that were supposed to be fixed after the New Deal. Nobody needs to run against Obama Care. It is a self defeating prophecy.

    April 20, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  5. king

    i wonder how many people will be covered by obamacare in November if the rate of enrollment keeps on its current rate. the repubs will be task on taking healthcare from millions of their constituency, i'm not even talking about the millions they are already preventing from getting healthcare in their red states. the repubs are getting more and more irrational and illogical each and every day, look at what they did in Nevada and this tax cheat guy bundy. i wonder what they would say if folks in the inner cities and suburban areas started pointing guns at law enforcement officers and started holding up innocent children as cover from retaliation. i still cannot believe that fox news is pushing anarchy against the government with this bit. i always said that fox news was a terrorist organization posing as a legitimate news program and my prediction is showing its ugly head day by day. i wonder if the precedent that fox news and its followers set, will work in the inner cities and suburban areas, as weather it is legal to point guns and use women and children as cover in front of law enforcement officers, amazing.

    April 20, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  6. don in albuquerque

    Tables are just now beginning to turn on the GOTP as more and more of their lies are exposed.

    April 20, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  7. Hooper

    Only if we (the voters), fail to recognize the importance of their vote. If the people fail to get out and vote, then the republicans will win. This is what they and their corporate news reporting minions are counting on. They are convinced that if they can convince you that it's a lost cause, or of no use to try, then they can win the day for their party and it's agenda. If they win, you lose. It is that simple.

    April 20, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  8. Tampa Tim

    Ever notice that those republicans who yell the loudest in opposition to ACA, are the least affected by the law? The Kochs spent a billion trying to derail it, and it has little affect on them or their 50,000 employees. The republicans scream against marriage equality, at it has no affect on them. The GOP demands another war, but it doesn't affect them, because they are not going to enlist.

    April 20, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  9. NamejJK. SFL. vOTE THE GOP ANTI-HEALTHCARE PARTY OUT iN NOVEMBER

    The REAL question is how will the voters in the red states react to the GOP governors who are denying THEIR voters Healthcare WHILE the REST OF US can SIGN UP for CHEAP HEALTH INSURANCE . I predict that most of these GOP governors are going to be KICKED OUT OF OFFICE, also these same GOP CLOWNS are AGAINEST the minimum wage that all polls say all voters are in favor of and AGAINEST unemployment exstension and everything else the voters ARE in favor of. Good luck getting realected morons. The GOP also claims their going to keep the house and senate, LIKE YOUR GOING TO KEEP ALL THE SEATS You already have. It's NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. You think the voters are going to vote in favor of doing NOTHING for the next two years, talk about the GOP PARTY OF STUPID!!!!!!!!!

    April 20, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  10. GuestX

    Gurgyl

    ACA IS A LAW. Period. It is saving millions of people. Yes, ultimately this costs will come down with lower deductions.
    -----------------------------------
    This is America. Laws can be fought, changed and repealed. Period. The ACA is NOT saving millions of people. Millions have lost, and will continue to lose, the health insurance and doctors that they liked because of the ACA. ALL of America is being threatened with mandates and penalties to buy policies that they do not want or cannot afford. The ACA is a health insurance mandate; it does NOT guarantee quality healthCARE. There is also no guarantee that the costs will ever come down.

    April 20, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  11. NamejJK. SFL. vOTE THE GOP ANTI-HEALTHCARE PARTY OUT iN NOVEMBER

    How can running AGAINEST healthcare be look at as a positive thing when you DENY healthcare to your red state voters GOP governors , While the rest of us have access to cheap health insurance and medicad and turn down all the FREE goverment money, no wonder the GOP has NO CREDIBILITY ON ANY HEALTHCARE ISSUE!!!!!!!!!

    April 20, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  12. MaryM

    Will GOP’s focus on Obamacare pay off in 2014 midterms? Nope, because the ACA is Already helping Millions of Americans and will help Millions more Americans in the future.

    GOP , if your platform is trying to take away something, health insurance, from millions of American that will Help Millions of American, then you need Not run.
    Thank you,
    The Majority of the American People

    April 20, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  13. Charles

    How can you base your platform on denying healthcare for millions?

    April 20, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  14. Tampa Tim

    Guest – Sorry, but you are wrong about ACA. Over 290 million Americans now have health insurance. 275 million were not affected, over 15 million have been added as students, from Medicaid, or sign ups. 1.2 million of you got to keep your junk policy, so there is no change. 5 million living in red states were denied coverage through Medicaid, and the rest are following the Kochs' orders to not sign up.

    April 20, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  15. Tampa Tim

    As a follow up, the Kochs have 20,000 employees in foreign countries that are covered under socialized medicine.

    April 20, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    @ada ada: I can tell you are a libertarian by all the incorrect mid-sentence capitalization. Besides being a tell, it reveals how ignorant you are of the most basic of things.

    April 20, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  17. kurt

    "How can you base your platform on denying healthcare for millions?"

    It's not like the GOP hasn't taken this line before. They use the word "reform" rather then "take away", but much of their main policy points are about taking things away from large numbers of people in order to give benefits that primarily help a small number of people.

    Talk of Medicaid or medicare reform is essentially taking pieces of those programs away so that those paying the most taxes can pay less... or helping the wealthy on the backs of those who are not. That is what the GOP is all about.

    April 20, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    If the gop/tea bags had a track record of success, I'd say, give them a listen.

    But they don't – and at a time when our country needs all efforts directed at programs to continue the economic progress we've experienced under President Obama's leadership, the gop/tea bags' continued push for failed policies is not only childish, it's a threat to our national well-being.

    April 20, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    @NamejJK. SFL. vOTE THE GOP ANTI-HEALTHCARE PARTY OUT iN NOVEMBER: "How can running AGAINEST healthcare be look at as a positive thing when you DENY healthcare to your red state voters GOP governors ..."

    That's the whole repub/tea bag strategy: Make your constituents suffer and blame President Obama and the Democrats. Scared, desperate people, with just about nothing left but their pride, are easy to manipulate – in part, because they don't want to/can't admit they've been played for fools.

    April 20, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    @Gunderson: "Well, Obama Care may be here to stay but so is high unemployment, high food prices, and a huge assortment of problems that were supposed to be fixed after the New Deal. Nobody needs to run against Obama Care. It is a self defeating prophecy."

    No one ever claimed that the New Deal would fix all problems forever – just that those policies would alleviate them. gop/tea bag policies create boom/bust cycles that tank the world economy and benefit only the top 1%. Why anyone would want to live like that (unless you're a 1%-er) is beyond me.

    April 20, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  21. Thomas

    GOP , " The Party of No New Ideas ".

    April 20, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. Gunderson

    Holy National Debt!
    Name JK, How can anyone turn down cheap health insurance and Free Government Money. Wow, old Gunderson ask where all that money? Nation 18 Trillion in Debt. Many now working 29 Hour Work Weeks if they working at all. Somebody fooling you. Now who that be? With Liberals who need Mafia?

    April 20, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. GuestX

    NamejJK. SFL. vOTE THE GOP ANTI-HEALTHCARE PARTY OUT iN NOVEMBER

    How can running AGAINEST healthcare be look at as a positive thing when you DENY healthcare to your red state voters GOP governors , While the rest of us have access to cheap health insurance and medicad and turn down all the FREE goverment money, no wonder the GOP has NO CREDIBILITY ON ANY HEALTHCARE ISSUE!!!!!!!!!
    ---------------------------------------------------–

    First off, there is no such thing as FREE government money. Government collects its revenue (aka money) from taxes; taxes that individual Americans and business are required to pay. When taxes go up, people have less of their own discretionary money to spend, save or invest as they choose and businesses have less money to hire people with. Secondly, NO ONE IS DENYING ANYONE HEALTHCARE!!!! Obama has mandated that every American buy government approved health insurance; policies that many people do not want or cannot afford, but are forced to buy or face penalties. Obama is the one who is forcing people off their current plans that they like. Government is now controlling which health insurance policies that you must buy; this does not guarantee high quality healthCARE.

    April 20, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  24. Rick McDaniel

    ObamaCare is a train wreck.........and the voters need to be reminded.......not a single Republican voted for it, in either the Senate nor the House. They also need to be reminded that not a single Dem had read it......before they voted for it, and that after they couldn't even get enough votes to pass it with ONLY Dems........Obama paid off Dems under the table to get them to switch their votes, to pass it.

    That IS the real story..........of the worst law ever passed by Congress.

    April 20, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  25. Moderately Amused

    It's Easter Sunday folks. For cripes sake give it a rest for 1 day!!

    April 20, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
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