Repealing Obamacare Is Out. "Fixing Healthcare" Is In.

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 23 2014 8:42 AM

Repealing Obamacare Is Out. "Fixing Healthcare" Is In.

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Republicans now agree that it's just a fixer-upper, not a scrap-it-altogether.

Photo by Karen Bleirer/AFP/Getty Images

Over at the Cook Political Report, Elizabeth Wilner writes that Republican pollsters have moved on from "repeal" of Obamacare as their 2014 message.

Pointing to Public Opinion Strategies national omnibus polling data showing equal percentages of Americans ready to support candidates who want to “keep and fix” the ACA and “repeal and replace” it, [Republican pollster Bill] McInturff suggested we will see a rhetorical shift in how Republicans advertise about the law. For example, ads might include more precise examples of what aspects of the law they would repeal, or more people providing testimonials to how they’ve been hurt by reform.

The shift is underway already. In a new-ish ad for Massachusetts candidate Richard Tisei, the Chamber promises its endorsee will "work in a bipartisan manner to fix health the right way.'

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It's similar in a Chamber ad for Rep. Joe Heck. We learn at the start that Obamacare's led to "fewer choices" and other maladies, but Heck is not sold as a repealer—he will "fix" the law.

In Minnesota, Chamber-endorsed first time candidate Stewart Mills spends an entire ad talking about the specific evils of Obamacare. But he does not promise to—quoting Mitch McConnell now—"pull it out by the roots." Instead: "I'll replace it."

With more and more Republicans putting primaries in the rearview, and having nothing to fear from a right-wing challenge, there's going to be more of this evolution. And it all grows out of polling. People still despise the term "Obamacare," especially in the states that will decide control of the Senate. But, as Democrats keep whimpering, people really like aspects of the law when submitted to a blind taste-test. The solution? Oppose "Obamacare," but promise blandly that you'll keep and fix all the aforementioned nice parts.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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