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August is Walloping Democrats, Again

Jul 31, 2020
August is the cruelest month…for Democrats, it seems. Driving the news today is a new Gallup pollthat shows Republicans holding an unprecedented 10 point lead over Democrats on a generic ballot. Other polls indicate the spread is closer to 5 or 6 points, and all politics are ultimately local, not generic, but the new poll has rightly stoked fears of November being a “wave” election for Republicans.
Compounding the bad news for Democrats is a new Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, which shows that the slow but steady gains in popularity made by the health care reform bill since passage have been wiped out:
The August Health Tracking Poll finds that support for health reform fell over the course of August, dipping from a 50 percent favorability rating in July to 43 percent, while 45 percent of the public reported unfavorable views. The dip in favorability returned public opinion on the new law to the even split last seen in May before a modest uptick in support in June and July.
The drop in support for the health care reform bill is no doubt due in part to a barrage of negative advertising that residents around the country, but especially in swing districts in states like Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, have been exposed to. The backlash is bad enough, it seems, that even progressive groups like Health Care for America Now (HCAN), which fought hard to pass health care reform, are attempting to take the issue off the tablewhen they work to reelect lawmakers who voted for the bill:
Now, HCAN’s field crews are finding that the best way to support reform-friendly lawmakers is to talk about something else: jobs, the economy or other issues likely to resonate more with voters.
“We want to be flexible in talking about what is most relevant to constituents, whatever issues are most motivational,” said HCAN’s national field director, Margarida Jorge, who organizes a daily call with their partner organizations. “We can have a high level of focus on health care but also understand at times the focus is going to shift.” [...]
But what HCAN describes as a tactical shift, reform opponents see as proof that the law is unpopular, a loser for Democrats in a tough election cycle. “Voters don’t like health reform and they know that,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former CBO director who now works with the American Action Forum on their Operation Healthcare Choice project. “Independents are key to control; health reform is unpopular but jobs and economy could move votes. When it comes to substance, on health reform, they’re in bad shape.”
HCAN’s move seems like the wrong tactic. By side-stepping the debate, the group only further cedes the field for groups like the American Action Forum, along with its network of loosely affiliated conservative nonprofits that includes American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, to define the issue through a rash of advertising this election cycle. But in a tough electoral season, the group would rather seek ways to keep legislators who voted for the bill in office than pick fights with detractors about the bill itself.
Dexter Cooke

Dexter Cooke

Dexter Cooke is an economist, marketing strategist, and orthopedic surgeon with over 20 years of experience crafting compelling narratives that resonate worldwide. He holds a Journalism degree from Columbia University, an Economics background from Yale University, and a medical degree with a postdoctoral fellowship in orthopedic medicine from the Medical University of South Carolina. Dexter’s insights into media, economics, and marketing shine through his prolific contributions to respected publications and advisory roles for influential organizations. As an orthopedic surgeon specializing in minimally invasive knee replacement surgery and laparoscopic procedures, Dexter prioritizes patient care above all. Outside his professional pursuits, Dexter enjoys collecting vintage watches, studying ancient civilizations, learning about astronomy, and participating in charity runs.
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