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Opinion

April 26, 2014

Schribman: Can Obamacare carry the GOP?

(Continued)

But it is not a surprise, and the Democrats have their talking points ready. They are saying, though not everybody is believing, that in this fall’s midterm congressional elections they can run on Obamacare, not run away from it. Here’s the argument, provided in an interview last week with Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the party chair:

“Are Republicans really going to ask 8 million people to give back their insurance and to take their kids under 26 off their health care and to deny affordable coverage to people with pre-existing conditions? They’re obsessed with opposing the president, even if opposing the president hurts the middle class.”

She acknowledged that Democratic candidates in some races may prefer to express skepticism of the health care law — “It will be an individual decision,” she said — but insisted that the issue is a winner, even in her state, where in January a Republican won a special election in a Tampa-area district carried by Obama in both 2008 and 2012. “That was truly a special election,” she said.

The importance of health care in November depends in some measure on the magnitude of two issues — the level of the law’s applicability and the level of the law’s opposition.

The Gallup survey shows that two-thirds of Americans believe they are unaffected by the health care law, and the division between those who believe the law has hurt them (18 percent) and those who believe it has helped them (15 percent) is tiny.

Though the Obama administration has highlighted the 8 million people who have signed up, the newly insured constitute only 4 percent of the country and, given established voter participation patterns, represent an even smaller part of the voters in a midterm election. Though these newly insured skew Democratic by a 54-24 margin, they are generally younger than the population overall and thus are far less likely to vote.

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