Remember when Republican campaign officials were absolutely certain that running against "Obamacare" would be their first, second, and third priorities in the 2014 midterms? Well, forget it.
Bloomberg News today highlights
a woman named Rose Duke, a 44-year-old from Raleigh, who supported Mitt Romney and thought she didn't like the Affordable Care Act. She's changed her mind.
Duke, who lost her flooring business after her husband died last year, says she now has a favorable view of the measure and is angry at her state's Republican governor, Pat McCrory, for refusing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Duke has a diabetic daughter who was initially denied health-insurance coverage because of the state's swollen Medicaid rolls. "My child got caught up in the political B.S.," she said. "I had to walk in there and beg them for help," said Duke, who eventually got coverage from Medicaid, the federal-state program for lower-income Americans.
And that, in a nutshell, is the Republican nightmare. GOP policymakers and their allies fought tooth and nail to prevent families from receiving these health care benefits, but now that Americans are enjoying health care security, they're discovering the gap between Republican rhetoric and reality.
And they're realizing that everything the right said about the ACA was wrong. The Republican strategy of counting on the public not knowing any better has always been unsustainable, and slowly but surely, the gambit is crumbling.
It's reached the point at which some GOP campaigns are moving away from health care as a 2014 issue, unwilling to tell people like Rose Duke that Republicans want to take her family's benefits away.
More from the Bloomberg News piece
Republicans seeking to unseat the U.S. Senate incumbent in North Carolina have cut in half the portion of their top issue ads citing Obamacare, a sign that the party's favorite attack against Democrats is losing its punch. The shift -- also taking place in competitive states such as Arkansas and Louisiana -- shows Republicans are easing off their strategy of criticizing Democrats over the Affordable Care Act now that many Americans are benefiting from the law and the measure is unlikely to be repealed.
In quantifiable terms, consider the fact in April, the dominant issue in North Carolina's closely watched U.S. Senate campaign was health care -- 54% of all campaign ads were anti-Obamacare advertising. In June, that number had dropped to 27%, and it's likely to drop further.
This isn't to say the Affordable Care Act is suddenly popular; it's not. Rather, the point is the Republicans' ability to exploit health care ignorance isn't working out nearly as well as they'd hoped.