Today's Daily Digit is brought to you by the fine folks up on Capitol Hill, who have mentioned the word "Benghazi" 72 times during floor speeches in the past eight days, according to data compiled by the Sunlight Foundation.
Ninety-eight percent of the mentions since January have come from Republicans.
Meanwhile, the word formerly known as the hottest buzzword of 2014 has gone incognito. Earlier in the year, Republicans stubbornly insisted that if they said Obamacare three (million) times, their 50+ senate seats would appear. However, "Obamacare" has been mentioned a paltry 19 times in floor speeches in those eight days.
Republicans seem to have found a new word to hang their 2014 hopes on.
When Obama announced that more than 8 million Americans had signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, he said, "I think we can all agree that it's well past time to move on." Many Republicans disagreed.
No, we can’t. RT @ZekeJMiller: Obama: "I think we can all agree that it's well past time to move on."— NRCC (@NRCC) April 17, 2014
Outside groups, like Americans for Prosperity, have already spent tens of millions of dollars running ads against Democratic incumbents, and many Republican candidates have made repealing Obamacare their campaign cri de coeur. However, the strategy has lost even more of its sparkle since April. Insurance companies told Congress that 80 t0 90 percent of the people who signed up for Obamacare have paid their premiums.
Many of the new attacks that Republicans have tried to launch against the health-care law have been deemed false. Federal courts seem unlikely to challenge the law. As new health-care consumers test their new plans, new gripes could arise, but they don't seem large enough to bank electoral victories on. Public opinion toward Obamacare hasn't changed in the last few months, but Republicans seem to be thinking about moving on to greener pastures -- or at least diversifying their electoral stump-speech portfolio. Thursday's confirmation hearing for Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the nominee to replace Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of health and human services, was nearly sedate, and many Republicans announced their support for the next steward of Obamacare.
Since the GOP failed to translate Benghazi investigations into electoral gains in 2012, they seem determined to proved the adage "practice makes perfect" true for 2014.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee sent out fundraising appeals as renewed interest for investigations into the Benghazi investigations mounted this week. The House is forming a select committee to investigate the White House's response to the attacks. Rep. Trey Gowdy, the person set to run the committee, has said the committee's work could last until 2016 -- a clear admission that the party thinks there may be more electoral benefits to reap from this issue if the secretary of state who served during the attacks, Hillary Rodham Clinton, decided to run for the presidency.
When Gallup asked Americans what they considered to be the "most important problem" facing the country in April, the top response was "Dissatisfaction with government." The third highest response was "Health Care." Both of the Republicans' favorite 2014 talking points draw into these two answers. Midterm voters are increasingly influenced by their opinion of the president when making down-ballot picks. Both Benghazi and Obamacare have clear and potentially negative ties back to the White House. Many past presidents have seen their approval ratings drop after scandals -- especially when the economy was in a precarious state. Republicans likely hope that the committee will turn up something that leaves the public displeased with the president.
However, there are also signs that Republicans may end up only taking a breather from Obamacare. Bloomberg News reported that only three Republicans have campaigned on Benghazi this election cycle, including Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C), one of the senators most associated with calls for more Benghazi investigations, and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.). When they asked Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va) whether she planned to campaign on Benghazi, she said, "No."
For the near future, however, all we are going to be hearing from congressional Republicans is Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi. Whether they bring the same message back home to their constituents remains to be seen.