Temporary blip mirroring the nationwide souring on O and his big “achievement” or a more durable shift that threatens Democrats in 2016? I had it in my head for some reason that ObamaCare has always been relatively popular with women, but check Kaiser’s polling over time and you’ll see that’s not really true. Among women generally (not just white women), support for the law has cracked 50 percent exactly once over the past 44 months. This year alone, support scraped 40 percent only in October, when it got a small bounce after the website launched, but otherwise it’s been below that mark consistently.
Kaiser didn’t provide a split among women along racial lines but it’s a safe bet that black and Latino women have consistently supported O-Care at higher levels than white women have. Case in point: Last year, according to the national exit poll, Obama won 96 percent of black women, 76 percent of Latino women, and … 42 percent of white women. All of which is to say, the downturn lately is no surprise. But if it’s not surprising, it’s still potentially important: Obama ran seven points ahead with white women last year than he did with white men. Overall, he won women by 10 points while Romney won men by eight. Women, including white women, are making the difference for Democrats in national elections. If the O-Care debacle erodes that advantage, they’re in trouble.
According to Kaiser, 40 percent of college-educated white women hold a “very unfavorable” view of the law—10 points higher than a month ago. An additional 10 percent view the law “somewhat unfavorably.” A month ago, those two groups together totaled just 42 percent…
And that’s not all. Democrats should be far more worried about white women who do not have a higher education. The numbers are astounding: In the latest Kaiser poll, 50 percent have a “very unfavorable” view of the law—9 points higher than in October. An additional 13 percent view it “somewhat unfavorably.” Indeed, antipathy among blue-collar white women runs even deeper than the most conservative white demographic group, blue-collar white men (59 percent of whom hold an unfavorable view, Kaiser found).
Remarkably, only 16 percent of blue-collar white women have a favorable view of Obamacare. They disapprove of it by a 4-1 ratio. (The poll found 21 percent did not know enough about the ACA to hold an opinion.) These voters are by no means a strongly Democratic group: Obama won just 39 percent of them last year. But they do lean further left than their male counterparts, and Democratic candidates in 2014 will need to perform even better with them to win reelection.
This is why I’m unsure whether the downturn is a blip or something more permanent. Blue-collar women are, in theory, one of the winners from the law, not only because they’re in line for subsidies but because maternity and neo-natal care are one of the new mandatory “essential benefits” in ObamaCare plans. Maybe they’re hearing horror stories in the media about rate shock and recoiling, not realizing yet that their own rate shock will be eased by money from Uncle Sam. Or, much scarier for Democrats, maybe they do realize that and are worried that the rates (and out-of-pocket expenses) will be too high even after subsidies. If that’s what ends up happening, good luck in 2014, progressives.
But are they in trouble in 2016? If their O-Care problem with white women persists, two things are going to happen. One: The insufferable “war on women” demagoguery will be pushed even harder in order to claw back as many of those lost women voters as possible. The minimum-wage push lately will also become more urgent as a way of appealing to disaffected blue-collar women. If insurance subsidies aren’t enough to preserve the left’s advantage, identity politics and federally-mandated wage hikes might be. Two: If Hillary looked like a lock for the nomination now, wait until 2015 rolls around with Democrats panicked about white women fleeing the party. Party leaders will see her nomination as the only silver bullet in their arsenal capable of singlehandedly bringing that demographic back into the fold. And by the same token, if women are suddenly in play, the pressure will be intense on the GOP to put a woman on the ticket to exploit the foothold they’ve been given by ObamaCare. Two words, my friends: Christie/Martinez.
Here’s Ed Schultz reassuring America that, no matter what the polls say, God is on ObamaCare’s side.