Republicans continue to confidently assert that they can use their push to repeal Obamacare as a cudgel to beat up on Democrats in red states. The issue obviously helped enable big GOP gains in the 2010 Congressional races, and they say they see no reason not to operate from the same playbook once again.
But there are signs that national Dems believe the politics has shifted on the issue in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling. The decision has allowed Dems to focus the conversation more directly on the provisions in the law that Republicans would take away from people — and what Republicans would replace them with, if anything.
Today, in the wake of the House GOP vote to repeal Obamacare, the DSCC will use the vote to attack House GOPers who are running for Senate — mostly in red states.
The DSCC will hit Rep. Rick Berg, who’s running against Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota; Rep. Denny Rehberg, who’s running to unseat Jon Tester in Montana; Rep. Connie Mack, the favorite to face Bill Nelson in Florida; and Rep. Jeff Flake, who’s running for the open seat being vacated by retiring Senator Jon Kyl in Arizona. The copy of the release hitting Rehberg reads:
“Instead of passing legislation that will create jobs and expand Montana’s economy, Congressman Dennis Rehberg decided to play political games with his partisan colleagues in Washington and create special loopholes for insurance companies to kick Montanans off their health plans.
“Dennis Rehberg wants to allow insurance companies to discriminate against Montanans with pre-existing conditions, young people, pregnant women and even cancer patients. Dennis Rehberg’s vote would also force 11,062 Montana seniors to pay hundreds more for prescription drug coverage, all without creating a single job in Montana.”
The key there is the specificity — this is the turf Dems hope to fight this battle upon. Some Republican consultants have privately expressed reservations about the push for full repeal, noting that it could only appeal to GOP base voters who are already revved up against Obama anyway, and that it risks alienating independents who may not want to see this battle relitigated yet again. However, it’s unclear if this is anything approaching a widespread sentiment.
Republicans — and even some neutral observers — continue to insist this is a winner for the GOP. So here’s a way to look at this. We know that Republicans will continue to use Obamacare to attack Democrats in down-ticket races by making the (false) charge that Democrats voted to cut $500 billion in Medicare from seniors. But the question is, How aggressively will GOP candidates push full repeal of Obamacare on the campaign trail and in ads? If they don’t, that could be a key tell as to where the politics of health care are heading. Also worth watching: How aggressively are Dems calling out Republicans on repeal?
Readers: Along these lines, tell me what you’re seeing in your states. How is the push for full repeal playing on the ground?