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After Florida Special Election Defeat Will Democrats Abandon Obamacare?

There are few ideologies in the past twenty-five years that have galvanized a political party on either side of the aisle like Obamacare and Democrats. The healthcare law, hastily and unilaterally passed by Democrats is as close to sacred ground for liberals as it gets. So when Republican challenger David Jolly defeated heavily favored Democrat Alex Sink in Florida’s special Congressional election last week, on an anti-Obamacare platform (President Obama carried the Florida district handily in both elections), the pillars of the Obama Administration began to show serious fractures.

After promising to change the way Washington works in his first term, the President exploited the Senate on House majority to ram through a litany of liberal ideological legislation, including the 11th-hour bill called the Affordable Health Care Act. The thousand-plus page bill was presented to Congressional Republicans hours before a scheduled vote and passed by the Democratic majority before the ink dried. This so enraged Republicans who had expected a debate that it galvanized the party in perpetual opposition to the legislation.

So when David Jolly beat the National Democratic Party’s hand-picked candidate Alex Sink in Florida, Republicans sensed blood in the water as crucial mid-term elections approach. Despite appearances by former President Clinton and outspending her Republican challenger, Alex Sink was defeated handily in what Republicans ironically refer to as a referendum on Obamacare. It was not long ago that Democrats where claiming the re-election of Obama as a referendum in favor of  Obamacare.

The fact is that only 57% of all eligible Americans bothered to vote in 2012 Presidential elections. Of that, Obama received just over half of that vote, or 28% of all eligible voters in the U.S. It was certainly enough to claim a landslide victory, but not even close to claim a referendum on Obamacare, or anything else for that matter. In related matters, nearly two thirds of Americans in virtually every major national poll do not support Obamacare. That would correspond to the 28% or so of the ideological base of the Democrats, although that is empirical and not scientific.

It is unlikely that congressional Democrats will abandon Obamacare, but they will need to quickly figure out how to contain the sharp disappointment with the legislation. The fact remains however, that the Florida election was a watershed moment for Obamacare and Congressional Republicans and Democrats. It seems clear also that the Republicans will ramp-up the attacks on the floundering Obamacare program. What remains to be seen is how Democrats will react. It is not so easy for incumbent Democrats to distance themselves from Obamacare legislation. Many Democrats are too invested in Obamacare to have any shot at convincing voters otherwise and will likely have to forge through this issue without political cover. It is likely the American voters will indeed hold a referendum on Obamacare in the upcoming midterm elections, the early indication suggest that Republicans hold the upper hand.

Timothy Kelly
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