April 20th, 2014
11:12 AM ET
4 years 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. Smitty

    Obumbles states now 8 mil have signed, and Ill close gitmo, Ben Ghazi was a video, you can keep your .... well you get the point. No one at this point believes anything from the BIGGEST LIAR OF THE YEAR.

    April 20, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. yerkiddinright

    Remember the GOP's laser like focus on "jobs, jobs, jobs"? How'd they do with that again? They'll most likely fool the fools they usually fool but it won't get them very far. For crying' out loud they have one ostensible candidate who thinks people will forget how much of a buffoon he is because he's wearing glasses now. Conservatives aren't the brightest constituency.

    April 20, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |

    I don't think there is ANY doubt which party is holding the ECONOMY BACK ??? It is the GOP party of STUPID and of OBSTRUCTION . Do you GOP think it's a good idea to HURT the American people and TRY to deny them healthcare to win an election?????? You will prove the GOP IS the party of STUPID in November when you lose the house because of YOUR TOTAL INCOMPETENTS and non ability to govern,GOP MORONS!!!!!!

    April 20, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  4. Tommy G

    Tampa Tim
    Guest – Sorry, but you are wrong about ACA. Over 290 million Americans now have health insurance. 275 million were not affected,

    Only because our lying deceitful Liar of the Year has unconstitutionally delayed and altered Obamacare to delay the impact on those 275 million people with the employer mandate provision of Obamacare. The entire country saw what happened to 5 million people who lost their coverage, doctor and hospital when the Liar in Chief said it wouldn't happen. They KNOW what the employer mandate will do to them because even Obama doesn't want it to kick in before the 2014 election, otherwise Democrats would be extinct.

    Democrats don't get it. Their lies about Obamacare now are taken as just more lies from Democrats. The reality of Obamacare is there for all to see. It has been one disaster and lie after another. And then to have Harry Reid call the American people liars? Well, that was just topping on the cake.

    April 20, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  5. Harold Read

    Obamacare is LAW!!!
    Lol! A law that had it's deadline moved over and over and over again.
    A law that was sold to the American people on a lie, "You can keep your policy. Period"

    Aside from running on lies, Drms need to push the full power of the NSA and IRS to crush any opposition.

    April 20, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    The 100% focus on Obamacare is a clear statement about the the lack of ideas and policies that would benefit our country......reason enough to not vote for them.

    April 20, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  7. len

    To Hopper......
    You do not vote you lose...

    Exactly right, Democrats cannot sit home in 2014 as they did in 2010. Only 37 percent of registered voters voted. And guess which party had the highest percentage. If we do not vote and throw some of these tea party folks out of office and if we lose the Senate, you can kiss more than healthcare away. Young people , dems, independents and all progressives need to vote. Do not let 27 percent of the population control the majority! !!!!
    Get out and Vote!!

    April 20, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |

    GOP out in November , is rather vote for an illigal SPACE MAN OR WOMAN or ANIMAL?????

    April 20, 2014 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  9. ada ada

    To ThinkNutty (a.k.a ThinkAgain),

    maybe u need to stand up, shake hard to clear that space between the ears of the Gun k and think again...Try AnYway...Success never guaranteed ...lol

    April 20, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  10. labman57

    The GOP's fact-devoid, hyperbole-laden, irrational fear-fomenting anti-ACA train is losing steam with each passing day.

    April 20, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  11. Sarah/Dumfries,VA

    This is just common sense,how can any government deny its people from getting healthcare & voting rights?gop/teapartiers are sick & they will pay for it in Nov,GOD hates dishonest scales,so watch out idots

    April 20, 2014 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. Free Man in the Republic of TEXAS

    WE love it when "Dear Leader" lies to us...
    It makes us FEEL so good about our compassion !!!

    The Lib / Progressive / Democrat UTOPIA – Nirvana end
    (WE know that it NEVER EVER actually works)
    is ALWAYS justified by ANY and ALL means....

    Hope and change
    Yes We Can

    April 20, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  13. The Real Tom Paine

    Yes, Harold, we get the idea that you think that all you have to do is press home the idea about loss of civil liberties and the supposed burden the ACA will impose on the American taxpayer. The sky has not fallen, and you are forgetting of course that it was your lot that took full political advantage in 2002 and 2004 of 9/11 in order to create what Karl Rove called " a permanent majority", which lasted all of about 2-4 years. Please, by all means continue to try to persuade what tiny portion of undecided voters that you have a better solution to their problem-oh, thats right, you don't have a plan that has a prayer of being enacted into law. Just a bunch of meaningless votes designed to keep the donation flowing to the so-called " grassroots organizations, like the one Amy Kremer resigned from this past week. Yep, keep the illusion coming, along with the meds. Its going to be fun to watch your reaction the morning after the election, when you won't even be able to sign on.

    April 20, 2014 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  14. Liz the First

    Obamacare will pay off, for Democrats. anyone with half a brain will see who cares about the American people and who doesn't. It is beyond crazy and depraved to want to deprive people of health care . It's beyond stupid to think the health care system we had before Obamacare was sustainable. No, it's not a perfect system, yes, it can be improved. but it's a good step in the right direction. and it sure beats the repug health care plan: 'die quickly!'

    April 20, 2014 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  15. cmml

    If the Clinton News Network has anything to do with it – The GOP has no chance in November.

    April 20, 2014 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  16. LARS

    What has been most puzzling to me is why would the American news media and press willfully perpetuate the many lies told by conservatives about both President Obama and the Affordable Care Act Law; especially when accurate and factual information about both has always been readily available to them.

    April 20, 2014 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  17. Olympic Eagle

    It is clear that Republicans are against anything Obama has done and want to defend the Constitution. Now, how those positions turn into policy on what they are for is a mystery to me. I am an ardent Democrat and Keynesian but curiosity has me interested in seeing Republicans take control of government and see if this time they can do any better for the country than they did with Bush. I am a 2% -er so, it's unlikely that I will get hurt badly, but who knows. Anyway, they governed poorly through 2008 and have basically had no new ideas for the past 6 years. I'm curious what governing in 2016 and beyond would look like.

    April 20, 2014 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  18. don in albuquerque


    You keep referring to the president as the biggest liar of the year and yet you keep forgetting past recipients. Those would be Mitt Romney, and Sarah Palin, who were the biggest liar of their respective years. And calling the president Obumbles, just shows everyone how well a third grade education works.

    April 20, 2014 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  19. Too Scruffy

    Lie after lie after lie. Every Democrat should embrace their voting history on 'BamaCare! Be proud. It's your law. Let the voters decide if they want representation from people who don't read the laws that they vote on.

    April 20, 2014 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  20. Marie MD

    It's hard to run against something that is working for 8 million Americans and will fork for millions more but . . . . proceed teaklans.

    April 20, 2014 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  21. Adam Ricards

    How about "Credibility" as an election issue? Isn't that what the gist of all this is? Smidgeons and Periods notwithstanding. Hard to believe it will not weigh heavily on voters minds. Read my lips!

    April 20, 2014 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  22. Vence

    Repeal-IRS-Benghazi, Repeal-IRS-Benghazi, Repeal-IRS-Benghazi, Repeal-IRS-Benghazi ....Master Koch,we are running out of ammo!

    April 20, 2014 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  23. texasnotea

    Just like the 2012 Presidential election the republicans thought was in the bag by a "landslide",until reality hit the next day they REALLY believed Rumney was going to win and he didn't.They will face the same results in November because the already believe Obamacare is the key to winning the Senate and increasing their hold on the House. I'm sure it will be another Landslide loss and then they will blame everyone and everything but themselves,again. Just because the gop"says"it is so usually means just the opposite. Google it if you don't believe me.

    April 20, 2014 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  24. Free Man in the Republic of TEXAS

    "The debate is over.

    TRUST "Me"
    "I" am NOT a liar

    Dictionary . com
    a person who has lied
    lies repeatedly

    "I" will close GITMO

    "I" will veto ALL earmarks

    "I" will CUT the deficit it half

    "I" will make the sea jump back

    “I” will cut the cost of health care

    "I" will get un-employment under 5%

    “I” will LET you keep the Dr. you like

    "I" will NOT raise your taxes; NOT by one dime

    "I" will go line by line through the budget and cut

    “I” will end fraud waste and abuse in government programs

    "I" will end Red State – Blue State and just have United States

    "I" will have the most transparent administration in American history

    “I” will support and defend
    The Constitution of the United States of America

    FORWARD >>> >>> >>> >>> >>> >>> >>> >>>>
    To " T R U T H " in "MY" administration !!!

    April 20, 2014 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  25. S. B. Stein

    Obama hasn't done a good job of showing people of what good the ACA does. Once it is clear, then there will be a greater amount of acceptance of the law.

    April 20, 2014 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
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