A tasty morsel from Paul Bedard — although the only reason this is filed under “news” rather than “duh” is because lefty pundits continue to float CW-defying “Democrats should run on ObamaCare” pieces sporadically whenever a new round of bad polls come out and they get the jitters. (These same people will be writing “scrap ObamaCare and embrace single-payer” pieces starting the day after election day.) Whenever they do, I imagine a bunch of Republican campaign honchos circa 2006 trying to talk themselves into running on the Iraq war. It’s the only thing they haven’t tried! The war will become popular again, it just … hasn’t been sold correctly yet. It’s so crazy it just. might. work.
Not going to work, says Celinda Lake.
“In terms of Obamacare, don’t defend it, say it was flawed from the beginning, and we’re going to fix it,” said Lake at a poll briefing hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
But, she added, it is key for Democrats to also stick to their historic approach of looking out for the little guy when it comes to health care. “Say,” she added, “we’re not going to go back to the days of leaving you on your own with the insurance companies.”
Lake said the approach has several positives for Democrats. Namely, she said polling shows that most voters “want to fix it rather than start all over again.” She said women are especially “exhausted” by the drawn out fights over Obamacare.
The Republican half of the Battleground Poll, Ed Goeas of the Tarrance Group, however said that Obamacare will still be a noose around the neck of Democrats because it is “symbolic” of the party’s big government approach.
What’s the alternative to doing it Lake’s way? If you’re a Democrat, you can’t run against the law full bore; there’s too much soundbite material there for the GOP to use against the rest of the party and it’s too grave an admission of misjudgment on your own part. If Mary Landrieu was too stupid not to oppose a paradigm-shifting boondoggle when she had the chance in 2010, she’s too stupid to go back to the Senate. So now she has to muddle through with some “mend it, don’t end it” nonsense about how the law’s principles were and are sound — preexisting conditions, subsidies, all the treats that people like — but that more needs to be done to bring costs down. You need Democrats in control to protect the good stuff while stripping out the bad; the GOP’s repeal effort will do nothing but restore the status quo. Every Democrat in the country who’s running in a purple district will take this line. There’s really no other choice. But having a respected Democratic pollster formally declare that it’s time to forget about defending the law as-is when we’re less than a week from the final enrollment deadline seems nonetheless significant. The poll watchers are prepared to admit political defeat even if the White House isn’t. Although, really, the White House already has.
Speaking of defeat, take a look at the table Harry Enten put together over at Nate Silver’s new site. Going back more than 75 years, only once has the party that controls the presidency at the time seen its generic ballot numbers improve between spring of a midterm election year and election day. The numbers almost always decline — suggesting that Democrats may become more, not less, vulnerable to a Senate takeover as 2014 wears on. There may be only one thing that can save their majority now. Yep, you guessed it: Drugs. Think about that while you marvel at the political know-how of one of the country’s most prized swing groups. Via the MRC: