Brian Beutler critiques the 2014 GOP election strategy pushing repeal of Obamacare in The New Republic.
The Democrats’ working theory of 2014 is that they must minimize presidential election drop-off among young people, ethnic minorities, and single women. Get the Obama coalition back to the polls one last time, or at least split the difference between a typical campaign with Obama atop the ticket and a midterm. This explains the party’s legislative strategy over the past year and a half. If you can pass a law, do it. If you can’t, then at least make it clear who killed it. And to that end, Republicans are in the process of killing immigration reform, equal pay legislation, and workplace discrimination protections for LGBT employees. They will probably add a Voting Rights Act patch, a minimum-wage increase and an Earned Income Tax Credit expansion to that list.
Before last week, though, lingering doubts about Obamacare implementation and enrollment were crowding out tons of other news. At least at a national level, Democrats were having a hell of a time getting the press to focus on the contrast between their agenda and the Republicans’ lack of one. Republicans were able to kiss off Democrats’ efforts as clumsy misdirection. Yet despite these tremendous disadvantages, Senate Democrats in conservative states are enjoying small-to-sizable leads, according to a recent New York Times/Kaiser Family Foundation poll, and though the Affordable Care Act remains unpopular in these states, their residents would much rather keep and improve the law than repeal it outright.
I think Democrats will have an easier time now. And I think the GOP’s Obamacare obsession is going to start looking more and more strained and untenable. We’re already seeing signs of that in Senate races in Arkansas, Michigan, New Hampshire, and North Carolina. But I don’t think Republicans are going to switch scripts any time soon, both because conservatives won’t let them, and for the more fundamental reason that they don’t have any other scripts lying around.
Cross-posted from The Sensible Center