Obamacare may be the GOP’s ace in the hole

Signs are growing that the Obamacare fiasco could be the factor enabling the GOP to maintain a Senate majority.  And, wonder of wonders, the GOP may be intelligently playing the ace in the hole Obamacare dealt it.

According to The Hill:

Eight of the states that will determine the Senate majority in November are likely to see significant reductions in the number of insurers participating in ObamaCare marketplaces.

The likely departures of insurers in Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Arizona and Missouri are pushing the healthcare law toward the center of some of the most competitive Senate races in the country.

GOP strategists say Obama-Care’s troubles this year are morphing into a perfect storm for their candidates, providing a boost in a year when the party is defending 24 Senate seats.

Since these changes will not be announced until November 1, they may not have an impact on early voters unless a push begins soon by candidates, the party, and PACs to bring this issue to the forefront.  

Two phone calls I received over the last week suggest that just such a push may be underway.  Last Thursday I was contacted by ProMark Research Corporation.  It was a live poll.  The pollster first asked favorable/unfavorable questions on Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Trump as well as Richard Burr and Deborah Ross, the candidates for the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina.  The survey also asked a three-way vote question on the presidential race (Clinton, Trump, Johnson) and a three-way vote question in the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina. (Burr, Ross, Haugh). 

After the horse race questions, I was asked what I thought should be done with Obamacare (expand a lot, expand a little, no change, partial repeal, complete repeal).  The follow-up question was whether I would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who promised to repeal Obamacare in its entirety.

I was then asked a barrage of questions in which a statement was made about Obamacare and I was to respond whether that statement was correct or incorrect.  Each statement contained specific numbers on issues such as premium rates, deductibles, the number of state exchanges that have closed, the decline in the number of participating insurers, rising Medicaid costs, etc.  For example, one question went something like this: under Obamacare, the premiums for covering the average family have increased to over $17,000 a year while the deductible has risen to $5,700.  I told the person conducting the poll that I found the level of detail in the statements such that I doubted that even an experienced health care policy wonk would be comfortable attesting to the correctness of that many highly specific questions without double-checking the numbers.

I suspected at the time I took this poll that it had been commissioned to test the level of knowledge in the electorate in order to craft how a U.S. Senate candidate should address Obamacare in ads and stump speeches.

Then on Monday I received an automated call that advertised itself as a short survey on health care.  The male voice said he was a doctor.  This one was a "push poll," a call that advertises itself as a poll but is clearly designed to move public opinion rather than collect information.  There were three questions – one on the total number of people who lost insurance under Obamacare, one on the total number of people now in narrow network plans that limit their choice of doctor, and one on the total number of people who have lost or will lose the insurance plans they were told they could keep.  Each question offered four answers.  After the respondent gave his response to the question, the voice told him the correct answer. 

For each question, the correct answer was the option that had the highest number of people negatively affected by Obamacare.  The recorded voice talked quickly at the end, but I thought I heard that this "poll" had been conducted by Independent Women's Voices.  That organization does operate the site Broken Obama Care Promises.