Spotlight

Where Obamacare Hurts the Most

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 03: U.S. President Barack Obama embraces Monica Weeks, who introduced him and also benefitted from provisions of the Affordable Care Act, before he addressed supporters on the health care legislation in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building December 3, 2013 in Washington, DC. During the event, Obama defended the reasons why the Affordable Care Act was originally implemented and urged patience with problems with the healthcare.gov website. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
National Journal
Alex Roarty
Dec. 5, 2013, 6:40 a.m.

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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