Remember when Democrats insisted they’d run in the midterms on the success of ObamaCare? Good times, good times. Granted, the last time Debbie Wasserman-Schultz uttered that bon mot was almost a year ago, and it was so ridiculous a notion even at that time (while the rollout melted down) that the DNC chair had to reiterate it three days later. Her Democratic colleagues in the House tried following through in January with an ad filled with anecdotes about all of the successes of the Affordable Care Act, which ran for, oh … sixty-six seconds. By April, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer backtracked to an argument that ObamaCare would have no impact on the election at all. Hoyer also said that Democrats would pick up seats in November.
Good times, indeed. According to Politico, ObamaCare has produced an unprecedented voter backlash, not just on the effects of the law but on its core:
Most Americans don’t want to get rid of Obamacare. They just don’t share its fundamental goal of universal coverage anymore.
And not only did the political benefits that Democrats thought the 2010 law would eventually bring them not materialize, opposition has only grown, according to an analysis of multiple polls taken between 2010 and last month.
“There have been backlashes, but never like this,” said Robert Blendon, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and co-author of the analysis released Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.
It turns out that Americans liked the concept of government-guaranteed universal coverage, but not when they saw what that would mean:
Only 47 percent of Americans agree that it’s the government’s job to make sure everyone has health coverage, down from 69 percent in 2006, the analysis found. That shift is particularly pronounced among likely voters. Of those who are most likely to show up at the polls on Nov. 4, one in four believe in this principle.
Over the summer, the White House insisted that the political battle over ObamaCare had been settled. Clearly, that’s not the case. Republicans have continued to hammer on its implementation and its intrusive nature, and polls clearly show a wave building nationally in favor of the GOP.
It may also have something to do with a couple of stunning developments on demographics. Yesterday I wrote about the Harvard University study of millennials and their new tilt toward the GOP in this election cycle. They strongly oppose ObamaCare now, by 18 points at 39/57, and disapprove of Obama’s performance on health care by a nearly identical 37/59, a 22-point deficit on a traditional Democratic strength. They still trust Democrats more than Republicans, but not by much at 33/25. In my Fiscal Times column, I argue that ObamaCare and the “war on women” squandered millennial support for Democrats:
Rather, the issue is disillusionment with Democrats, especially President Obama. His job approval rating is now 43/53 in a sample that voted 53/33 for Obama in 2012. Young voters now express disapproval in almost every phase of his presidency–36 percent approval on the economy, which is their top issue in this survey, 35 percent on foreign policy (second-highest issue), and 37 percent on health care.
In fact, 57 percent disapprove of the Affordable Care Act in this survey, a huge shift from four years ago – perhaps driven by the belated realization that Obamacare relies on sticking them with a huge bill for comprehensive health policies they will hardly ever use.
Most interestingly, when asked an open-ended question about their top issue in this election, contraception never comes up. Only 1 percent mentions abortion, and only 1 percent mentions income inequality. This generation became conscientious objectors in the war on women over the last two years.
Similarly, the HHS contraception mandate intended to tie women to ObamaCare, especially single women. This has utterly backfired, as the latest Washington Post/ABC poll shows. Aaron Blake noted it yesterday:
One of the most interesting numbers in the new Washington Post-ABC News poll is buried deep within the cross tabs.
The poll shows that, on the generic ballot, the GOP leads 50-44 among all likely voters. But among unmarried women, Democrats have a 48-43 edge.
That might seem to be a good thing for Democrats, except that they count on single women in a much bigger way — in fact, so much so that this demographic is routinely highlighted as the key to Democrats keeping the Senate. …
Democrats have won unmarried women by between 25 and 41 points each of the past four elections. Obama won 70 percent of them in 2008, to just 29 percent for John McCain.
The push on ObamaCare and especially on the contraception mandate not only failed to hold single women, their usual overwhelming advantage has evaporated. Perhaps that’s the result of the patronizing demagoguery necessary to make the argument that women can’t use their own resources to access birth control, but need their bosses to do it for them.
The backlash begins with ObamaCare itself. Democrats’ silence on this “achievement” over the last few months has spoken volumes.
Update: William Jacobson points out one race in particular where ObamaCare has become a massive albatross to an incumbent House Democrat.