Health Care Voters Turn Republican Election Strength Into Liability

Seven years after Obamacare crushed Democrats at the ballot box, the party is using health care to launch a revival, saying President Trump and congressional Republicans are paying a price for their fumbled repeal effort and will sink further next year.

Voters in Maine last week opted into Medicaid expansion, a key plank of the 2010 law, and Virginia voters pointed to health care as they swatted aside Mr. Trump’s endorsement of the Republican candidate for governor and chose Democrats up and down the ballot.

Meanwhile, Obamacare is polling better than ever, enrollments are outpacing last year’s and progressive groups are plotting to turn the fight over Obamacare into electoral wins, blanketing social media and selling $25 T-shirts and $15 coffee mugs to anyone who pledges to be a “Health Care Voter.”

It’s a major turnabout from 2010, when President Obama’s heavy mandates and D.C.-centric reforms sparked talk of “death panels” and a “government takeover” of health care.

Some Republicans say Democrats are boasting much too early.

Virginia has become a reliably blue state over the past decade, and it’s not as susceptible to economic swings because of federal jobs in the northern part of the state, so Mr. Trump’s populist message didn’t resonate as much as in other states, said Republican Party strategist Ford O’Connell.

“Democrats would be wise to not overinterpret what happened last week in the commonwealth,” he said. “Heading into 2018 midterms, overall health care is not the political liability it once was for Democrats. That said, the 2018 Senate map is decidedly pro-Trump and anti-Obamacare.”

Despite a positive Senate map, Mr. O’Connell said, health care might be a liability for some House Republicans next year, particularly in the Northeast, so the party will need a near-perfect replacement to get something through the Senate and fully change the narrative.

Read more from Tom Howell Jr. at The Washington Times

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