In Tuesday’s off-year elections, Democrat Terry McAuliffe squeaked by social conservative Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia gubernatorial race, winning the state by a slim three point margin. Yet, the usual liberal prognostications of a blue Virginia and a blue sweep in next year’s midterm elections were non-existent. Why?
Because only a week earlier, Ken Cuccinelli had been losing by double-digits, and the only reason for his comeback was Terry McAuliffe’s own party. The last week-and-a-half of the Cuccinelli campaign saw a wave of Obamacare horror stories hit the airwaves. Millions of Americans saw their health care plans canceled this month, revealing the untruth of President Obama’s repeated assurances that no one would lose his/her health care plan or doctor. Congressional hearings saw Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius take a verbal beating from Republicans brandishing angry letters from their newly-uninsured constituents and receive softball questions and shielding from safe-seat Democrats. In one heated exchange, New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone refused to yield the floor as he labeled the entire committee a “monkey court.”
In previous articles, I have expressed my own frustration at the lack of desire on the part of Democrats to solve the Obamacare mess and to mend the lives of the millions of Americans who are now uninsured as a result of the president’s health care plan, and it is becoming increasingly clear that Americans are feeling this same frustration as well. Promised by their president and by liberal Democrats that they would keep their health care coverage, the American people are appalled and angry at the flippant attitude of their blue representatives toward their health care coverage. Democrat after Democrat on Capitol Hill this week has dismissed the mass hemorrhage of health coverage as a lifesaving replacement of “junk plans” with those which the federal government deems appropriate, but the fact is that all of this political posturing intends to cover up the massive fib Democrats and President Obama told in order to to ram the Affordable Care Act down the throats of the American people. And just as Americans have begun to turn against Obamacare as their premiums rise and their plans are canceled, Virginians began to turn. Though dominated by federal employees, who will be largely unaffected by the new rules and regulations of the ACA, Virginia turned out for Mr. Cuccinelli in droves and almost gave him a victory. Had Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis not been in the race, Ken Cuccinelli would have turned Virginia red.
But let’s not pretend that Ken Cuccinelli was a perfect candidate. A large part of why Mr. Cuccinelli’s comeback was so remarkable can be found in his smorgasbord of flaws. A social conservative, Cuccinelli faced ruthless bashing for his traditional views about marriage and homosexual relationships, and his belief that abortion should not be allowed in any circumstances except to preserve the mother’s life gave Mr. McAuliffe plenty of ammunition for attack ads painting the former attorney general as an extreme social conservative. To top it off, Cuccinelli’s poorly-run campaign failed to attract support from Republican Party donors – who had written off the soft-spoken Tea Party favorite as a dead duck – and was outspent almost 3-to-1 in the final week of the election. But in spite of all of his negatives, Cuccinelli managed to close the gap.
This election marks the beginning of the end of Obamacare and Democratic control of the Senate, and Democrats know it. On Wednesday, fifteen Senate Democrats – all up for reelection next November – met with President Obama off the record to discuss the botched rollout and the cancellations rippling across the country. They all see the writing on the wall, and I can guarantee that you will see some interesting flip-flops from this group of politicians over the next six months regarding Obamacare. One of these Democrats, Senator Mary Landrieu (D, La.), is already backtracking, authoring a bill of her own that would allow Americans to keep their health care plans if they keep up with their payments. But four years ago, she and all of her Democrat colleagues voted against the same proposal, one that a Republican had put forward in the Senate around the time of the ACA’s passage.
In truth, Ms. Landrieu is too late to the party. The cake is all gone, and there is little hope for Senate Democrats as they enter the election cycle next year. With the tidal wave of cancellations we have seen in the individual market, Senate Democrats will have to convince Americans that the employer mandate – which will be enforced next year – will not have the same effect on the health insurance market, and doing that will be damn near impossible.