The politics of Obamacare have erased a lead Democrats once held in the generic congressional ballot for the 2014 elections, according to a new poll from CNN. Here are the details:
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida congresswoman and chair of the Democratic National Committee, is nothing if not dedicated to the cause. “You’re darn right our candidates are going to run on the advantage that Obamacare will be going into the 2014 election,” she recently told CNN.
But as the news about the president’s health care law goes from bad to worse—a faulty website and low enrollment gave way to higher premiums and a steady stream of cancellation letters—congressional Democrats will likely want to talk about anything but Obamacare on the trail. In fact, it’s a number of Republican challengers who say Obamacare will work to their advantage next November.
One of them is Elise Stefanik, a 29-year-old Republican from upstate New York’s North Country region trying to unseat Democratic congressman Bill Owens. Owens, who won his seat in a 2009 special election, voted for Obamacare in 2010. The district is large and rural, mostly white and middle- or working-class, traditionally Republican but now split evenly between the parties. Stefanik says nearly 90 percent of questions she receives from voters at town halls these days concern their uncertainty about the status of their health insurance under Obamacare. In St. Lawrence County, one of the most reliably Democratic in the district, people took the microphone one after another to tell their personal stories. “Each one would say, ‘This is what I was paying, this is what I’m paying now,’ ” Stefanik says.
Polls reflect this growing anxiety over the effects of the law. A new survey from the Washington Post and ABC News found 39 percent of registered voters say a candidate’s support of Obamacare would make them more likely to oppose that candidate, while just 23 percent say it would make them more likely to support that candidate.
“Obamacare is unpopular, it’s too expensive, and many Americans will be forced out of their health plans over the next 11 months. It’s ‘bad medicine’ for many voters,” says Republican pollster Neil Newhouse. If the adage is that a rising tide lifts all boats, he adds, the corollary that sailors aboard a sinking ship are all at risk is also true.
“Right now, that sinking ship is Obamacare,” Newhouse says. “And that has to worry House Democrats.”