Incumbent Dem Senators Nervous about Re-election Chances with Obamacare
Because voters in five states where Democrat incumbent senators are running for reelection in 2014 are more against ObamaCare than for it, five senators have joined to call for extending the law’s enrollment period and delaying penalties for those who don’t meet the current deadlines.
Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) wrote a letter on October 22 to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius asking for the current open enrollment deadline of March 31, 2014 to be delayed. The letter was also signed by Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.)
Various polls in the five states indicate the voters’ disenchantment with ObamaCare. An internal National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) poll in New Hampshire showed 54% of voters against ObamaCare with 40% approving. The NRSC’s Alaska poll revealed 59% against Obamacare, with 32% approving. In Arkansas, an OnMessage survey showed 62% against Obamacare and 33% for it.
Magellan Strategies, a GOP-affiliated firm, conducted a poll in Louisiana showing 60% of voters turning against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) because she favors ObamaCare. An Elon University Poll asserted that half of the voters think ObamaCare will worsen healthcare in the state; 27% think it will improve healthcare.
Wes Anderson, who conducted the OnMessage poll in Arkansas, said, “It’s theoretically possible for the administration to iron out the kinks of this program and opposition could fade but that seems highly unlikely. It’s far more likely that the issue will remain a serious hurdle for Sen. Pryor all the way through Election Day.”
Some Democrats insist that there will be no split in the ranks; one senior Democratic aide said, “Democrats are not divided on ACA, some just want to be proactive about making clear they think there are issues that need to be tweaked. No one thinks it’s perfect, but no one wants to repeal it or do anything major that could harm its long-term prospects for success.”
Matt Canter, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, added, “Only 30 percent of the public supports the Republican position calling for a full and total repeal of the law and a continuation of the same types of partisan fights that shut down the government.”
But NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring thought that the polls reflected an accurate picture of how disenchanted voters are and the potential for GOP gains. He said, “When you go into each of these key 2014 states people are overwhelmingly opposed to ObamaCare. They know full well just how unpopular ObamaCare is in these states. That’s why the DSCC was encouraging their candidates to back away from the law and start supporting extending the enrollment period.”