Remember how the health care overhaul was going to help Democrats win in 2010? Aware that the law was unpopular, Democratic politicians put their hopes in what could be called a Life cereal strategy: Try it, you'll like it, they told the public.
A handful of House Democrats are making health care reform an election year issue—by running against it.
At least five of the 34 House Democrats who voted against their party's health care reform bill are highlighting their "no" votes in ads back home. By contrast, party officials in Washington can't identify a single House member who's running an ad boasting of a "yes" vote—despite the fact that 219 House Democrats voted in favor of final passage in March.
One Democratic strategist said it would be "political malfeasance" to run such an ad now.
Democrats have taken that advice to heart; it appears that no Democratic incumbent—in the House or in the Senate—has run a pro-reform TV ad since April, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) ran one.
If the PPACA ends up helping anyone's political fortunes in November, it will probably be those who opposed it.
But even if the law had become somewhat more popular—say, with a slight majority favoring it—ObamaCare was always a risky bet to help Democrats win seats in Congress. For Democrats, many of the most vulnerable seats are in conservative leaning districts with strong Republican presences. Unless ObamaCare had somehow won over the bulk of Republicans, the law was destined to play badly in those districts. And given the certainty from the beginning of the health care debate that the votes would be strictly party-line or very close, there was very little chance that Democrats would pass a piece of legislation amenable to much of the GOP. That put moderate Democrats in a tough spot when it came time to vote, and it's why a number of them are now running against their party's biggest legislative achievement.