The Washington Post

It’s complicated: Democrats’ relationship with Obamacare gets tricky

Some Democrats are using healthcare as a talking point for the midterms, while others are running from Obamacare. But can Dems run on the ACA without saying ACA at all? (Pamela Kirkland/The Washington Post)

Curious about how Democrats in swing districts are handling the Affordable Care Act issue? Look no further than the campaign Web sites of most contentious House and Senate races in the country.

We analyzed the campaign Web sites of 10 incumbent House Democrats and five senators in seats considered “toss-ups” by the Cook Political Report to see how the most endangered lawmakers are using (or avoiding) mentioning the Affordable Care Act by name.

We found some very different approaches:

Playing it straight:

Four Democratic House members – Reps. Ron Barber (Ariz.), Scott Peters (Calif.), Patrick Murphy (Fla.) and Brad Schneider (Ill.) — identify the Affordable Care Act by name in the “Issues” page of their campaign Web sites. Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) also includes the law on his “issues” page – the lone Senate candidate to do so.

Political charades:

Others, like Rep. Carol Shea Porter (D-N.H.), play a game of political charades, where they point to the benefits of the law but never mention it by name.

On Shea Porter's Web site, she refers to the debate over health care, “the law” and “access to healthcare” but never mentions the Affordable Care Act by name.

Both Reps. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) and Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) pledge to fix “the new law” or “new healthcare law” on their sites, respectively. But neither identifies the law by name.

What health-care law?

Reps. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), along with Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), focus on preserving Medicare and Social Security on their sites – but with no mention of any controversial laws or bills.

The Web site of Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) doesn’t include an “issues” page at all – instead the site briefly mentions his opposition to cutting Social Security and to making Medicare a voucher program. Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) also do not have “issue” pages on their sites, and they do not mention health care prominently on their sites.

Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) entirely omits any mention of health care on his site, which — like Udall, Landrieu and Pryor — omits an issues page.



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Katie Zezima · May 1, 2014

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