Let’s stipulate that Obamacare, barring a dramatic reversal in the next 11 months, will be a difficult issue for Democrats in 2014. The most pertinent questions then become: To what extent, and how? What groups of swing voters will turn against Democratic candidates in 2014? New data provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which conducts a well-regarded monthly poll on the Affordable Care Act, suggests the party should worry most about white women.
— Half of blue-collar white women surveyed in November were “very unfavorable” about the law, while just 16% of them either regard it “very favorably” or “somewhat favorably.” And the discrepancy has grown worse since the October rollout of the law, which brought a cascade of problems and negative media reaction. In October, 40% of the women without a college degree had a “very unfavorable” view of the law, while 27% of them had an overall favorable view.
— Meanwhile, half of white women with a college degree don’t like what they see from Obamacare either, the poll found. That’s a dangerous sign for Democrats, because that’s one of the few groups of white voters with whom they still perform reasonably well. President Obama, for instance, won 46% of them in 2012 — and he underperformed relative to recent Democratic presidential candidates.
— The real problem for Democrats during next year’s midterms, of course, is they need strong white female support to survive Senate reelection fights in overwhelming white states like Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana. The data suggest that the party’s candidates face an uphill climb on that front.
Democrats insist that they can still win the Obamacare argument by highlighting their attempts to fix the law rather than repeal. The idea has merit, but the law’s deepening unpopularity puts them at a disadvantage from the get-go. And, as the Kaiser poll shows, that’s especially true with a key part of their political coalition.
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.