1. Can “Obamacare” succeed at the ballot box?
As a health care policy, the Affordable Care Act’s fate won’t be determined for months, if not years. But Tuesday’s election results will shape the discussion of the law’s effects on national politics. In Virginia, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has seized on the flawout rollout of HealthCare.gov, linked the struggles of Obamacare to Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe and declared the race a “referendum on Obamacare.” If elected, Cuccinelli has pledged to stop any effort to expand the state’s Medicaid program through funds in the health care law.
But McAuliffe, who has said he will expand Medicaid, is the favorite to win. If he does, it will provide at least one rebuttal to the argument by Republicans and even some Democrats that the flawed health care rollout imperils the Democrats’ stances in the 2014 elections. The Democrats will have won the first race in the country so far in which the implementation of the health care law has been a major issue.
In fact, Obamacare may get two political victories on Tuesday. Chris Christie, who will almost certainly win re-election as governor in New Jersey, is one of the few Republicans who have not completely opposed Obamacare at every turn. He, unlike all but a handful of GOP governors, has accepted the Medicaid funds. His victory could push other Republican governors in more liberal-leaning states to do the same ahead of their 2014 reelection races.