Watch Out, Red-State Democrats

A new poll finds opposition to Obamacare deepening, especially in 2014 battleground states.

Mary Landrieu (D-LA) speaks with journalists at the 2008 State of the Union address on January 28, 2008.
National Journal
Alex Roarty
Nov. 19, 2013, 6:04 a.m.

Red-state Demo­crats al­ways knew Obama­care would be a prob­lem dur­ing next year’s midterm elec­tion. But a new poll re­leased Tues­day shows just how daunt­ing a threat it is.

An im­pos­ing plur­al­ity of adults in states that backed Mitt Rom­ney last year say they are more likely to op­pose than sup­port a law­maker who backs the health care law, ac­cord­ing to an ABC News/Wash­ing­ton Post sur­vey. Forty-six per­cent of red-state cit­izens said they’d be less in­clined to sup­port the can­did­ate; only 15 per­cent said they’d be more in­clined.

Over­all, the law’s un­pop­ular­ity has dipped far lower since its dis­astrous rol­lout, with dis­ap­prov­al of the Af­ford­able Care Act among all adults spik­ing con­sid­er­ably since last month.

Those num­bers draw a bull’s-eye on the back of the four red-state Demo­crat­ic in­cum­bents who voted for the health care re­form in 2010 and are up for reelec­tion in 2014: Mary Landrieu in Louisi­ana, Mark Be­gich in Alaska, Mark Pry­or in Arkan­sas, and Kay Hagan in North Car­o­lina. Each already faces a slim path to vic­tory in their re­spect­ive con­ser­vat­ive-lean­ing states, one nar­rowed fur­ther by the law’s in­creas­ing un­pop­ular­ity. There’s little re­main­ing doubt that the law, even with elec­tions a year away, will play a de­fin­ing role in the 2014 races, and how Demo­crats handle the is­sue will largely de­term­ine wheth­er the party re­tains its Sen­ate ma­jor­ity.

It’s also a warn­ing for Sen­ate Demo­crat­ic can­did­ates run­ning in oth­er red states, such as Michelle Nunn in Geor­gia and Ken­tucky’s Al­is­on Lun­der­gan Grimes. Un­like their in­cum­bent coun­ter­parts, they didn’t vote for the law, but Re­pub­lic­ans will non­ethe­less ag­gress­ively link it to them throughout their cam­paign.

Among all adults na­tion­wide, 37 per­cent said back­ing Obama­care would make them less likely to sup­port a can­did­ate, while 21 per­cent said the op­pos­ite. That’s the biggest gap the poll has ever re­cor­ded, The Post re­por­ted.

Thirty-five per­cent of in­de­pend­ents say sup­port for the law would make them less likely to vote for a law­maker, while 18 per­cent say they’d be more likely to sup­port them. The res­ults are more dis­cour­aging for Demo­crats among whites, who con­sti­tute the vast bulk of voters in 2014 battle­grounds like Arkan­sas — 46 per­cent to 20 per­cent.

Mak­ing mat­ters worse for Demo­crats, the law has taken a heavy toll on Pres­id­ent Obama’s own ap­prov­al rat­ings. Just 42 per­cent now back the pres­id­ent’s per­form­ance, the poll found, the low­est point re­cor­ded for Obama by the ABC/Post sur­vey. The poll was con­duc­ted Nov. 14-17 and sur­veyed 1,006 adults na­tion­wide. The mar­gin of er­ror for the full sur­vey is plus or minus 3.5 per­cent­age points, though the mar­gin of er­ror is high­er for sub­groups.

Demo­crats run­ning in 2014, in­clud­ing a pair of House Demo­crats run­ning for the Sen­ate, have ag­gress­ively sought changes to the law in re­cent weeks. They’ve voted to let in­sur­ance com­pan­ies re­sell their ex­ist­ing health plans, en­rolled in the health care ex­changes them­selves, and ordered in­vest­ig­a­tions in­to why the White House’s im­ple­ment­a­tion has been so rocky — moves de­signed to put dis­tance between them­selves and the law’s strug­gling rol­lout.

Their ac­tions sug­gest the Demo­crat­ic Party still be­lieves that even as voters grow in­creas­ingly angry with Obama­care, they want to fix — not re­peal — the law. That’s the frame op­er­at­ives hoped to use be­fore the dis­astrous rol­lout, one many were con­fid­ent would turn the re­form in­to a win­ning is­sue for the party. There’s evid­ence they’re still right.

The latest United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll, also re­leased Tues­day, found that sup­port for out­right re­peal of the law has not grown since Ju­ly. Thirty-eight per­cent said Obama­care should be re­pealed, com­pared with 35 per­cent who said law­makers should “wait and see how things go be­fore mak­ing any changes.” Those num­bers are largely un­changed since the sum­mer.

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
3 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
7 REPUBLICANS ON STAGE
Carly Fiorina Will Not Be Allowed to Debate on Saturday
2 days ago
THE LATEST

ABC News has announced the criteria for Saturday’s Republican debate, and that means Carly Fiorina won’t be a part of it. The network is demanding candidates have “a top-three finish in Iowa, a top-six standing in an average of recent New Hampshire polls or a top-six placement in national polls in order for candidates to qualify.” And there will be no “happy hour” undercard debate this time. “So that means no Fiorina vs. Jim Gilmore showdown earlier in the evening for the most ardent of campaign 2016 junkies.

Source:
×