David Jolly and Obamacare, One More Time

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 13 2014 8:56 AM

David Jolly and Obamacare, One More Time

Jake Sherman and Burgess Everett are out with a fun post-mortem on FL-13, a children's treasury of Democratic squirming. (Note to politicians: If you dodge an interview and pledge to call back later, then don't, the reporter can write that.) The only problem I see with it is a reference to "Jolly’s nearly singular focus on the health care law."

By no means should Democrats deny that Obamacare hurt them in this race—it was a test, and the Republicans won it. But Jolly's particular focus on the law was not total. He did not mention it in his November announcement speech, at a moment when the cancellation of health plans was the major national political story. In his debate appearances and campaign ads, Jolly reached for Obamacare like a special sauce, to be used to complement everything else on the plate. The ads aren't embeddable, but they can be seen at these links.

Advertisement

In "Where I Stand," Jolly stood before a backdrop of Florida scenery and, sort of strangely, faded in and out as he said he supported a "balanced budget" and "supporting our veterans" and, yes, repealing Obamacare.

In "The Difference," Jolly sat reading the paper as one of the infamous clips of President Obama saying "if you like your health care plan ... " played. "Now my opponent is saying things she knows aren't true." He promised to "repeal Obamacare, period."

In "Jessica's Law," Jolly received an on-camera endorsement from Mark Lunsford, the father of a disappeared girl and, for a while, the face for the campaign for the eponymous law. No mention of Obamacare there, just credit for Jolly (then a staffer) for "fully funding" the law.

In "Two Reasons," Jolly introduced voters to his mother and aunt and promised he would not touch their Social Security payments. They were really in danger, he said (in sort of a non sequitur), because Obamacare had cut Medicare and forced "many to lose their insurance and their doctors."

Jolly didn't just run around the district pledging to repeal Obamacare. He told a whiter, older electorate than had voted in 2012 that Obamacare was the reason they might lose coverage—oh, also that he learned his craft under Bill Young, that he was from Pinellas County, that he helped fund Jessica's law, and that he was a reliable conservative. It's wrong to say he ran on Obamacare alone, and impossible to say that Obamacare helped Alex Sink. And that's what Democrats need to figure out. They did not expect, in 2014, for the law to be anything but popular. They did not expect half of the states—most of the ones with competitive Senate races—to have said "nah, no thanks" to Medicaid expansion. But they haven't figured out how to sell what people might like about the law or talk to the people who feel they've been wounded by it.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 15 2014 4:38 PM What Is Straight Ice Cream?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.