Ben Smith observes that the GOP strategy of running against the health care bill (you know, suing the federal government or trying to pass nullification measures on the states) isn’t reaping in the kind of dividends that Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) had predicted:
This March, two attorneys general took the lead in lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the health care overhaul: South Carolina’s Henry McMaster and Florida’s Bill McCollum. Another, Michigan’s Mike Cox, soon signed on.
The lawsuits made them national leaders on the central national issue, and seemed tailor-made for Republican primaries. But all three lost those primaries, as CNN’s Peter Hamby noted of the first two last night.
McMaster lost to Nikki Haley, whose reform message trumped his series of ads touting his health care fight. Cox, who also put his health care suit on air, lost to a wealthy businessman who ran on a non-ideological platform under the slogan, “one tough nerd.” McCollum lost to Rick Scott, and there the message may not be as clear — Scott was also a leading national foe of the health care bill.
Indeed, it’s hard to argue that opposition to the health care law sank the ship, but it is likely that a heavy repeal message — one that focused on the dangers of reform sometime after 2014 — moved the conversation away from more immediate economic concerns and on to some ill defined, yet to be determined, cost increases down the road. In this sense, the anti-health reform AGs would have probably been better off following the national party’s advise to Democrats throughout the last year and a half: stop and focus on jobs and the economy.
We’re also seeing some indication that the repeal message just isn’t selling right now. State lawmakers are having a great deal of difficulty in passing legislation to invalidate different parts of the measure, Republicans can’t convince their entire caucus to sign the various repeal petitions, and public support for the law is growing as the early reforms come out.