Democrats Are (Slowly) Learning to Love Obamacare

Republicans continue to hold a clear advantage in the politics of Obamacare
Democrats Are (Slowly) Learning to Love Obamacare

by Sam Baker | The Atlantic | August 27, 2014


Democrats won’t be mounting a big political offensive around the Affordable Care Act any time soon, but they’re beginning to test the pro-Obamacare waters.

Heading into the 2014 midterms, Republicans continue to hold a clear advantage in the politics of Obamacare. And even if the tide does ultimately shift for the law, it almost certainly won’t happen by November. Still, there are signs that Democrats are slowly becoming more confident talking about the health-care law, or at least parts of it.

“There is a palpable comfort that didn’t exist as recently as six months ago,” said Chris Jennings, who worked on health-care strategy in both the Clinton and Obama administrations. “I think we’re in transition, moving from a defense to an achievement strategy.”

If that transition is happening, though, it’s still in its very early phases.

Democratic strategists cautioned against reading too much into the trickle of pro-Obamacare messaging some candidates have embraced. The law is finding a place in Democrats’ campaigns often as a byproduct of some other political need, they said, not because of a broader strategic shift within the party.

They downplayed, for example, the recent ad in which Mark Pryor of Arkansas—one of the Senate’s most vulnerable Democrats—highlighted popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The ad shows Pryor, appearing alongside his father, discussing his own bout with cancer and saying he “helped pass a law that prevents insurance companies from canceling your policy if you get sick, or deny coverage for preexisting conditions.”

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