Topics: Obamacare

Obamacare shockwave: Democratic control of Senate in jeopardy

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The Obamacare disaster rocking Washington is starting to spread to key states Democrats are defending in their bid to keep control of the Senate in the 2014 midterm elections, giving Republicans their best chance yet to take charge of Capitol Hill, according to a new voter analysis.

While most Americans won’t be impacted by the fumbling over Obamacare, there is a whole new class of citizens that covers 21 percent of likely voters who are being directly — and negatively — impacted who could change the outcome next year: those who buy their own health insurance.

Resurgent Republic, a GOP policy and polling outfit, reviewed recent election data and found that self-insured voters are an unusual group: They lean conservative but are more likely to identify with independents or Democrats than Republicans. And they turn out in higher percentages than other classes of voters.

They also love their health care plans. Some 77 percent are satisfied with their health insurance, the same plans being eliminated under Obamacare. What's more, Resurgent's analysis of 2009 and 2012 exit polls found that the self-insured's top concern about health care was controlling costs, like their premiums.

Now as they face the loss of their insurance plans and premium increases of up to 138 percent, the GOP is poised to pull them away from the Democrats in nine states the Democrats are defending: Michigan, North Carolina, Iowa, Louisiana, Arkansas, Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Alaska.

The GOP needs to net six seats next year to take control of the Senate.

Resurgent said the president's broken promise over keeping health care could be a killer for Democrats because they could lose health plans they like. Luke Frans, executive director of Resurgent Republic, said, “The salient reason why President Obama is on the defensive regarding his ‘if you like it, you can keep it' pledge is not just because he misled voters. It's because he did so on a topic where solid majorities of voters do indeed like their health plan and thereby assumed the law would not upend their coverage.”

The GOP agrees that Obamacare could ousted Sen. Harry Reid from the majority leader's office. Rob Collins, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in a podcast, “I think it’s going to be very damaging for the Democrats.”

Resurgent said the impact of self-insured voters explains why some Democrats up for reelection are backing fixes to Obamacare. "The urgency for red-state Democrats to put daylight between themselves and the White house on this issue is heightened as premium sticker shock hits home." In North Carolina, for example, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research said premiums under Obamacare, now the source of health insurance for the self-insured, will soar 136 percent, in Arkansas 138 percent, and Iowa 72 percent.

In Resurgent’s analysis, Frans concluded, “If Republicans can effectively speak to the anxiety caused by Obamacare, they’ll find an attentive audience, especially in battleground 2014 states.”

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.
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