It’s become a common refrain in GOP circles to claim that the success of Obamacare’s enrollment numbers are anything but due to the number of insurance cancellations in 2013 outnumbering new signups on the exchange. While there aren’t strong data on the number of cancellations due to Obamacare vs the typical churn in the individual insurance market, several health care wonks have offered analysis saying that cancellations due solely to Obamacare were minimal at best. This hasn’t stopped the GOP from continuing to inflate cancellation numbers in order to negate any positive effect Obamacare has had on insurance signups. The Washington Post fact checkers slapped down one Congressmen in particular who conveniently went silent when asked to provide numbers to back up his claims:
Members of Congress have a responsibility to be factual and accurate, especially when speaking to constituents about federal policies. But as far as we can tell, in at least two instances Huelskamp simply invented his claim that “numbers” exist showing that “there are more people uninsured today in Kansas” since the health-care law was implemented. Not only are there no up-to-date data, but the available figures concerning young adults and exchange enrollments provide good evidence that the law has led to a decrease in the number of uninsured.
Huelskamp can be as big as critic of the law as he wants, but he’s not entitled to conjure phony facts out of thin air.
I think Democrats will have an easier time now. And I think the GOP’s Obamacare obsession is going to start looking more and more strained and untenable. We’re already seeing signs of that in Senate races in Arkansas, Michigan, New Hampshire, and North Carolina. But I don’t think Republicans are going to switch scripts any time soon, both because conservatives won’t let them, and for the more fundamental reason that they don’t have any other scripts lying around.
And they may not need to. Their map is good! But if Obamacare recedes as an issue, and the projections start looking less auspicious for them, they might start wishing that they hadn’t staked everything on a single issue, the success or failure of which rests largely outside of their control.
— Republicans Have a Good Map. That Doesn’t Mean Obamacare’s a Winning Issue.
Danny Vinik, writing for The New Republic, examines the GOP’s 2014 strategy that a few months ago seemed bullet proof but now is experiencing signs of strain. With the lack of negative headlines on Obamacare and the improving economy, the wind has been quickly draining from Republican sails:
regardless of the public’s support, or lack thereof, of the Affordable Care Act, Democrats face an uphill battle this year. But could they pull a miracle upset and actually increase their majority? RealClearPolitics’ Sean Trende, the best conservative prognosticator out there, laid out that unlikely scenario in a piece last week: “The way this could occur is fairly straightforward: The Affordable Care Act improves; there’s no massive rate shock for premiums in September or October; and the economy slowly gains ground. This should propel President Obama’s job approval upward, lifting the collective Democratic boat.”
That doesn’t sound like such a long shot. The media narrative about Obamacare seems to have turned a corner since the administration announced eight million signups. Every day, it seems, there is a new survey or report bearing good news about the law. This hasn’t improved the opinion polls yet, but it likely will. After all, support for the law didn’t deteriorate right after the catastrophic launch. It took more than a month to register.
Republicans want to make the midterms a referendum on Obamacare, but that is easier said than done. As Brian Beutler has documented, the law’s recent success has hamstrung Republicans’ ability to use it for political gain.
A familiar adage in GOP circles is that though millions of Americans have signed up for health insurance under Obamacare, there’s still a net loss in those insured because of so-called “cancelations” in plans. But a new RAND survey shows that not only is there a net increase in those insured, the percentage of uninsured Americans is dropping dramatically:
Washington has been tracking enrollment in Obamacare’s exchanges and, less precisely, in Medicare. The Rand study uses a nationally representative sample to track vastly more data: They know roughly how many people were buying insurance from their employers, from insurers, and much more. They also know how many people were losing insurance, either through cancellations, or because employers were dropping them, or because they just stopped paying premiums.
Add all the gains and all the losses together and you get Rand’s bottom line: 14.5 million people gained coverage, 5.2 million people lost coverage, and so the net change since 2013 was 9.3 million people getting health insurance.
“The map in 2014, generally speaking, is not that favorable for the immigration reform cause,” Sharry said, but the 2016 map is “excellent.” That year, GOP-held Senate seats in Latino-heavy states will be up for grabs, and the Presidential election will swell the turnout of blue groups, especially minorities and young voters. Sharry gamed it out: “Our commitment as a movement is to get stronger in more places every election cycle. Quite frankly, we’re hoping to make some progress in 2014, but we’re hoping to have a huge 2016—and the way you have a huge 2016 is to get stronger in 2014.”
— Some Republicans About to Feel Uncomfortable on Immigration—and That’s the Point
With the Bridgegate scandal sinking Chris Christie’s standings in public opinion polls, none of the possible GOP presidential candidates is currently polling above 15 percent with GOP voters. Nate Silver found this to be historically unprecedented:
How rare is such an evenly divided field? I checked polling since 1976, the first year in which both the Republican and Democratic nominations were decided completely by voters and not by party leaders.
In surveys conducted from January through March of the preceding midterm election year (so for the 2012 election, we’re looking at polls from Jan. 1 through March 31 of 2010), the Republican atop the polls has always averaged at least 23 percent of the vote.
But not this year. Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and a presidential aspirant in 2008, leads current polling with 14.8 percent. Even if we include Democratic nomination contests, 14.8 percent basically ties for the lowest leader on record (right near the 15 percent Mario Cuomo had in 1992).