COMMENTARY | The victory of Republican David Jolly in the special election in the Florida 13th Congressional District over Democrat Alex Sink can only be seen as the first of many repudiations of Obamacare to take place in the 2014 election cycle.
Jolly took 48.5 percent of the vote while Sink took 46.7, but when one adds in the Libertarian candidate Lucas Overby’s 4.8 percent of the vote, the combined anti-Obamacare result comes to 53.3 percent. Sink was a massively well funded candidate who had the support of national Democrats such as former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Biden. The Florida 13th has gone to President Obama in the last two presidential elections. Moreover the Democrats pulled all the stops against Jolly with a negative campaign as someone who wanted to privatize Social Security and gut Medicare, a potent message in a district with a large population of retirees.
The Democrats will no doubt make excuses in public, but in private they have to be in a panic. The spin the Obama administration had been taking was that elected Democrats should remain calm, that all was well. The kinks in Obamacare would be worked out, by and by, and the American people would come to realize how great the new health care system really is. Thus far that message seems to have fallen in deaf ears.
How Democrats will react for the rest of 2014 remains to be seen. Will they double down and insist that anyone who wants to repeal Obamacare wants to kill old people and starve children? Or will a few, anxious to preserve their political careers, start peeling away and join Republicans in suggesting that the health care reform law, while good in intent, has failed and that going back to the drawing board is needed?
Neither approach is likely to save Democrats in 2014. Increasingly Obamacare is being seen as the worst public policy disaster in American history. Those who perpetrated it or even defend it in the slightest way will not escape the wrath of the voters.