Bear in mind below that “HCAN” stands for “Health Care for America Now.” They’re not a generic lefty coalition, in other words; they’re dedicated to a specific issue. And yet … that’s the one issue they suddenly don’t want to talk about.
Now, HCAN’s field crews are finding that the best way to support reform-friendly lawmakers is to talk about something else: jobs, the economy or other issues likely to resonate more with voters.
“We want to be flexible in talking about what is most relevant to constituents, whatever issues are most motivational,” said HCAN’s national field director, Margarida Jorge, who organizes a daily call with their partner organizations. “We can have a high level of focus on health care but also understand at times the focus is going to shift.”
HCAN activists say they are not dodging their key issue; rather, they want to keep pace with voter concerns, which have markedly shifted over the past year.
But what HCAN describes as a tactical shift, reform opponents see as proof that the law is unpopular, a loser for Democrats in a tough election cycle. “Voters don’t like health reform and they know that,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former CBO director who now works with the American Action Forum on their Operation Healthcare Choice project. “Independents are key to control; health reform is unpopular but jobs and economy could move votes. When it comes to substance, on health reform, they’re in bad shape.”
Riddle me this. According to every liberal pundit in the universe, the impending Democratic catastrophe in November is due to the economy, the economy, and nothing but the economy. In which case, why on earth would HCAN suddenly want to to start talking about … the economy? Surely distracting voters from the economy by emphasizing the glorious improvements that are on the way for American health care is a better strategy for motivating the lefty base than dwelling on the looming double-dip recession over which The One has presided. Or is ObamaCare now so toxic among the electorate that having Democrats pay lip service to jobs is actually marginally better for them? We got an inkling of the answer two weeks ago, but I guess we know for sure now.
The guy to read on this subject today (as usual) is Jay Cost at RCP, who’s been tracking the generic ballot trends over the past year and found something curious. If the Democratic downturn is all about the economy, the economy, and the economy, why did the GOP start to surge (especially among indies) late last year — when the economy temporarily started growing again? I’ve asked this before but I’ll ask it again: Given the unprecedented Democratic horror show lately in generic ballot polling, does anyone seriously believe they’d somehow be even worse off if they had dropped O-Care last winter and focused on jobs?