Bloomberg News published a fascinating story yesterday (“Obamacare Losing Power as Campaign Weapon in Ad Battles”) about the gradual, but steady demise of the Affordable Care Act as a campaign issue for conservatives in the 2014 election. In illustrating the altered political landscape, the story features a North Carolina woman whose views have been changed dramatically.
“Republicans seeking to unseat the U.S. Senate incumbent in North Carolina have cut in half the portion of their top issue ads citing Obamacare, a sign that the party’s favorite attack against Democrats is losing its punch.
The shift — also taking place in competitive states such as Arkansas and Louisiana — shows Republicans are easing off their strategy of criticizing Democrats over the Affordable Care Act now that many Americans are benefiting from the law and the measure is unlikely to be repealed.
“The Republican Party is realizing you can’t really hang your hat on it,” said Andrew Taylor, a political science professor at North Carolina State University. “It just isn’t the kind of issue it was.”
The party had been counting on anti-Obamacare sentiment to spur Republican turnout in its quest for a U.S. Senate majority, just as the issue did when the party took the House in 2010. This election is the first since the law was fully implemented.
Now, Republicans are seeking a new winning formula, with the midterm election less than three months away.”
The story continues with the powerful example of a 44 year-old former Romney supporter from Raleigh:
Rose Duke, a 44-year-old from Raleigh who cast her ballot for Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election, is one of the law’s new beneficiaries. Duke, who lost her flooring business after her husband died last year, says she now has a favorable view of the measure and is angry at her state’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, for refusing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Duke has a diabetic daughter who was initially denied health-insurance coverage because of the state’s swollen Medicaid rolls.
“My child got caught up in the political B.S.,” she said. “I had to walk in there and beg them for help,” said Duke, who eventually got coverage from Medicaid, the federal-state program for lower-income Americans.
As the story notes in conclusion:
The ad that has run the most in North Carolina, sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, an outside spending group founded by the billionaire Koch Brothers, proclaims that millions of Americans have lost insurance, can’t see their own doctors and are “paying more and getting less.”
Another features a self-employed Chapel Hill woman named Sheila Salter who says her policy was canceled and that she’ll be paying $4,500 a year more for insurance.
The challenge for Republicans is there may not be enough people losing coverage who can relate to the broadcast messages, to move the public-opinion needle.
According to a Gallup survey this month, the rate of uninsured people has dropped in all except five states. Two critical states, Arkansas and Kentucky, had the biggest declines. In Arkansas, the rate of people without health insurance fell from 22.5 percent in 2013 to 12.4 percent in mid-2014.