President Obama recently declared the national debate on the Affordable Care Act — aka Obamacare — to be officially over because 7.1 million people have supposedly enrolled in the program. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius updated the enrollment figure Thursday to 7.5 million. Neither Obama nor Sebelius, however, have revealed how many of those enrollees have actually paid their first bill, nor have they released detailed data on the demographics of the enrollees. That means the 7.5 million figure may be credible and maybe it's not, it's impossible for the rest of us to know with any confidence.
That fact hasn’t stopped Obama and his fellow Democrats from taking the so-called “victory lap” and declaring the Obamacare debate settled. If this were the Indy 500, Obama would be wheeling into the winner’s circle to accept the Borg-Warner Trophy and drink a little milk, even though most of the race was still to be run.
|If this were the Indy 500, Obama would be wheeling into the winner's circle to accept the Borg-Warner Trophy and drink a little milk, even though most of the race was still to be run.|
The latest USA Today/Pew Research Center public opinion survey illustrates just how far out of touch Obama is on Obamacare: As more Americans experience Obamacare and its terrible consequences for their daily lives, the program loses popularity and it becomes more likely to cost the president and his party control of the Senate. This may well be among the biggest miscalculations in American political history.
The numbers reported by USA Today are stark:
• “More than eight in 10 registered voters say a candidate's stance on the law will be an important factor in determining their vote. A 54 percent majority call it very important. By 2-1, those who rate the issue as very important disapprove of the law. That means it is more likely to motivate opponents than supporters to vote — a critical element in midterm elections when turnout often is low.
• “Americans continue to disapprove of the law, now by 50 percent to 37 percent. The share who say they don't know or won't answer has jumped, to 12 percent from 5 percent when the question was asked in February and last December.
• “Asked about the effect on the country as a whole so far, 43 percent say it has been mostly negative, 30 percent mostly positive. By 44 to 38 percent, those surveyed say its overall effect in coming years will be mostly negative.
• “The partisan divide is stark. Republicans by more than 8-1 disapprove of the law. Democrats by almost 5-1 approve of it."
That last point is most significant in terms of projecting the role Obamacare will most likely play in the 2014 election. Republicans are intensely and virtually unanimously opposed to the program, and want it repealed and replaced. Most Democrats support Obamacare but they clearly lack the fervor seen on the GOP side. If that trend continues come Election Day, nobody will be surprised if GOP off-year turnout is way up and Democrat turnout is down significantly. If the effect has legs down ballot in state gubernatorial and legislative races, it will be a repeat of 2010's Republican wave.