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February 18, 2014 4:42 PM “Fix It” A Different Message Than “Hate It” on Obamacare

By Ed Kilgore

It’s no secret that an awful lot of Democrats are running on a “mend don’t end Obamacare” message, as well they might given consistent public opinion research showing that a big chunk of Obamacare “opponents” don’t want the law repealed (beyond the ranks of those who favor more not less federal involvement in health care). But it seems some Democrats are taking a different tack: just finding ways to say something negative about the Affordable Care Act even if they don’t favor major changes in it.

This is dangerous because it adds to the general “noise” of negativity about the law—in a big way, as the New York Times’ Aslhey Parker notes today:

The dominant issue in political television advertising in January — the first month of the midterm election year — was health care, according to data compiled by the political advertising monitoring firm Kantar Media/CMAG, which also found that the vast majority of health care ads were critical of the law.
Among more than 1,000 health care-focused commercials airing for House races, for instance, the group found that only seven did not contain negative messages about the law.
Moreover, not all congressional Democrats are talking about the health care law in their advertising or their routine stump speeches — and even some of those hoping to explain their support are being far from laudatory. The commercial for Ms. [Ann] Kirkpatrick, the Arizona Democrat, by the House Majority PAC refers to the “disastrous health care website,” as does a spot the group did for Representative Joe Garcia, Democrat of Florida.

A 993-7 ratio of negative to positive information on Obamacare is not going to do anything good for perceptions of the law, and if Democrats are adding to it out of zeal for showing they’re not insensitive to problems with the law, they need to cut it out, or it’s going to undercut the “mend don’t end” message in a big way.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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