The 6 Biggest Health Care Hotspots
The Supreme Court's decision to uphold President Obama's signature health care law will reverberate down the ballot in November's Senate and gubernatorial races. While the high court's decision is a major victory for the president and Democrats who supported the law, it's also a catalyst for conservative outrage.
But with the Court (particularly, John Roberts) giving the law his legal stamp of approval, there's also the possibility that independent voters would view the law more favorably over time.
Regardless of how public opinion moves in coming weeks, the decision will play a crucial role in many Congressional and gubernatorial contests. In particular, there are six where the health care law has already emerged as a major issue - and where this ruling could change the dynamic of the races significantly.
Here are the races that will be most impacted by Thursday's big news:
Wisconsin (Senate): : For former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, the health care ruling couldn't have been worse for his political prospects. Thompson, who once supported an individual mandate, is facing a field of conservative opponents that will be sure to make an issue of health care in the August primary. There's even footage of him making his opinion known. This, in a state where conservative intensity is extremely high in the wake of the Scott Walker recall election.
On Wednesday, the Club For Growth, who is backing one of Thompson's opponents, Mark Neumann, released a 2006 video of Thompson voicing his support for a mandate. That won't be the last voters hear about it. (It's not difficult to envision the forthcoming 30-second ad from the Club or a Thompson opponent.)
Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the Democratic nominee in Wisconsin, will have to bat back charges she is too liberal for the state's moderate terrain. The economy will still dominate the discussion, but the increased visibility of the health care law makes it easier for Republicans to tie Baldwin to the president's policies. She not only voted for the measure, but she's been supportive of a public health care system.
But Baldwin, who is an effective campaigner, is better-equipped now to point to the benefits individuals will receive from the law without being weighed down by the constitutional baggage.
North Dakota (Senate): Crossroads GPS already began assailing Democratic nominee Heidi Heitkamp with ads blasting her prior praise of the law, even before Thursday. Heitkamp (smartly) struck back with an ad of her own, in which reaffirms her support, yet says the law has issues.
Heitkamp isn't a member of Congress; she does not have health care, stimulus and TARP votes that threaten to hurt other Democrats running this cycle. But she was publicly supportive of the law, an issue Republicans are ready to use against her - in a solidly-Republican state.
Now, Heitkamp, like Baldwin, can tie herself to the conservative Roberts in explaining a nuanced support of the law. While North Dakota voters may not be moved by Roberts's decision, it contributes to an overall sense that there is bipartisan consensus that the law is sound. As Heitkamp tries to chart a moderate course, that's good news for her campaign.