Obamacare: Election Year Poison for Democrats

So there was a special election this past Tuesday for a House seat in Florida. The Republican, David Jolly, won, and by all accounts, he won because he was able to make Obamacare an issue. And Democrats don’t have any idea what to think (let alone, do) about it:

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.

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.

Now, of course, it goes without saying that things can change when it comes to the political atmosphere. Obamacare may eventually become popular, or at least accepted, and of course, it ought to go without saying that congressional Republicans are eminently capable of doing dumb things that allow them to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But David Jolly’s win and the after-action report concerning the state of the Democratic party are still worth noting. Remember that port-side bloggers and pundits like Paul Krugman have been telling us that while the implementation of Obamacare may cost the Democrats some races this year, it would not have nearly the disastrous effect on the Democratic party’s fortunes that Republicans think/hope/pray that it will. Jolly’s win, and the Democrats’ response (or lack of a coordinated response) to that win ought to make any supposedly “reality-based” individual think twice before trying to whistle past the political graveyard.

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