In a stunning about-face, West Virginia Governor and Senate hopeful Joe Manchin publicly rebuked President Obama’s health care overhaul bill, the heretofore signature legislation of the Democratic Party. Speaking to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Manchin, who is struggling to overtake his Republican opponent in the race to win the late Robert Byrd’s Senate seat, claimed that he would not have voted for the bill given what he knows now. Clearly a maneuver to assuage restive West Virginia voters, Manchin’s statements only seem to confirm what many have suggested — that, above all other factors, ObamaCare weighs heavily on voters’ minds, and even heavier around the necks of Democratic candidates.
It’s not news that Democrats are running away from ObamaCare. Politico reported last month that there was seven times as much spending on anti-ObamaCare ads as there was spent on ads in favor of it. Democrats themselves have spent three times as much opposing the bill than they doled out supporting it. Since then, that figure has climbed to an astonishing twenty-to-one spent on ads opposing ObamaCare versus those in favor of it.
How could the tables have turned so remarkably? Recall after ObamaCare passed the Senate last year the Democrats were jubilant, basking in the glow of almost universal acclaim from the media. The fact that a sizable majority of Americans opposed the bill was brushed off with the confident assertion that once the people discovered what was in the bill — and, moreover, once Congress discovered what was in the bill — the public would give the Democrats their due and sweep them back into office. There was even talk that Obamacare would create a “permanent Democratic majority.”
But something truly remarkable happened on the road to serfdom; the putative slaves rebelled and insisted that they wanted no part of the Left’s scheme to control the American healthcare system. More to the point, and much to the detriment of the Democrat’s electoral prospects, rather than being grateful for blessings bestowed from on high, the populace never warmed to the idea. And as more and more details have emerged about the ObamaCare boondoggle, popular anger has only ossified.
The gap between those who oppose ObamaCare and those who support it is not huge. The latest survey released by the Kaiser Foundation, a pro-ObamaCare nonprofit group, shows that 49% of likely voters oppose the law while 39% support it. But the lukewarm support of the minority is overshadowed by a veritable tsunami of visceral disdain by the majority. The passion of those who oppose ObamaCare is what is terrifying Democrats like Joe Manchin.
ObamaCare, for these voters, has come to define everything that is wrong with President Obama’s agenda and the Democratic control of the House and Senate. It has become shorthand for the litany of wrongs the majority party has foisted on the country. This is why Joe Manchin is not merely running away from ObamaCare, but is actually trashing his party’s “proudest achievement” in order to curry favor with the most enthused portion of the electorate.