As Benghazi fever rises among Republicans, the Hill reported this week that the House GOP has “gone quiet” on Obamacare. There are no scheduled votes or hearings on the Affordable Care Act. When contacted by the Hill newspaper, most GOP campaign committees wouldn’t say whether they would launch any new attacks on the law.
As the Hill put it: “The lack of action highlights the GOP’s struggle to adjust its message now that enrollment in the exchanges beat projections and the uninsured rate is going down.”
At the same time, it noted that GOP operatives overseeing Senate races remain “conscious of the need to keep a drumbeat going against the law.” The question now: If Republican officials really are backing off on Obamacare, will the base go along?
A new CNN poll illustrates the situation nicely: It finds that far more Americans want to keep Obamacare than repeal it. At the same time, only a majority of Republicans want repeal and only a majority of Republicans think the law is already a failure.
The poll finds that 49 percent of Americans want to keep the law with some changes, while another 12 percent want to keep it as-is — a total of 61 percent. Meanwhile, only 18 percent want to repeal and replace the law, and another 20 percent want to repeal it, full stop — a total of 38 percent. That’s 61 percent for keeping the law and 38 percent for repealing it. Among independents, that’s 55 percent to 44 percent.
How is it possible that Americans can disapprove of Obamacare but support keeping it? Part of the answer lies in another question CNN asked. It finds that a total of 61 percent say that it’s a success or it’s too soon to tell whether it’s a success. By contrast, 39 percent say it’s already a failure. Among independents, that’s 58 percent to 42 percent in favor of those who would give the law a chance to work over time.
All this is a reminder that at this point, attacks on the law — such as they are, anyway — are all about keeping the base lathered up in advance of the midterm elections. But there are six months to go, and already even some Republican officials appear to be realizing that the anti-Obamacare energy is draining away.
Greg Sargent writes the Plum Line blog for The Washington Post.