Surprise: Lundergan Grimes can't say whether she would have voted for ObamaCare

Part of a series.

Another red-state Democrat in a competitive race can’t quite manage to decide if she’s for the law her party claims it was totally going to be running on in 2014:


Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes on Wednesday twice refused to say whether she would have voted for President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

Asked two times whether she’d have voted for the 2010 overhaul, the Kentucky Democrat who is challenging Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told The Associated Press: “I, when we are in the United States Senate, will work to fix the Affordable Care Act.”

Grimes added: “I believe the politically motivated response you continue to see from Mitch McConnell in terms of repeal, root and branch, is not in reality or keeping … with what the facts are here in Kentucky.”

Grimes is somewhat protected by the fact that Kentucky’s state exchange has been far less disastrous than in most other states, and the exchange has gained considerably more confidence from voters than Obamcare, as a result:

In Kentucky, a new Marist poll conducted for NBC News finds that 57 percent of registered voters have an unfavorable view of “Obamacare,” the shorthand commonly used to label the 2010 Affordable Care Act. That’s compared with only 33 percent who give it a thumbs up – hardly surprising in a state where the president’s approval rating hovers just above 30 percent.

By comparison, when Kentucky voters were asked to give their impression of “kynect,” the state exchange created as a result of the health care law, the picture was quite different.

A plurality – 29 percent – said they have a favorable impression of kynect, compared to 22 percent who said they view the system unfavorably. Twenty-seven percent said they hadn’t heard of kynect, and an additional 21 percent said they were unsure.

“Call it something else, and the negatives drop,” said Marist pollster Lee Miringoff.


The Kynect numbers, though better than Obamacare’s, aren’t knocking anyone’s socks off. And, I’d argue when Kentuckians give their state exchange better marks than the overarching federal Obamacare law, it’s not just an issue of a rose by any other name. Kynect has been demonstrably less of a calamity than the federal law, with fewer online travails, so why wouldn’t it get better marks from voters?

That being said, the exchange’s unhorrific performance does give Grimes more breathing room than other red-state Democrats. Democrats are left to wonder what would have happened electorally if they’d managed to muster enough competence to get other states’ and the federal exchange to limp along more convincingly than they have. I wish Americans had higher standards for government performance, but the fact is, they’re incredibly forgiving far too often. The barest bit of competence would have gone a long way. But they didn’t have it.

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