For better or worse, during the 2014 election the Democratic Party is effectively all in on Obamacare and the GOP is all in against it. While this was mostly true in both the 2010 and 2012 election, the 2014 election will be very different. In the previous elections the law was just some theoretical future reform. At the best of times, it was a merely an intellectual policy debate about competing predictions. At the worst of times, it was a fight simply over buzzwords.
By November of 2014 the law will have been fully implemented for almost a year. This time it won’t be fight about principles and ideas, but how well a complex law has been actually working. There will literately be millions of people who are better off and worse off because of the law for both parties to highlight. There will be even more people who will finally see that the law has had almost no impact on them personally.
Previously, the GOP was defending the status quo against poorly understood Democratic changes. In 2014 Democrats will be defending a new status quo from the GOP’s vague promises to change it with a “repeal and replace.”
In addition there was actually a chance before the 2012 election that if Republicans won, they could have cleanly repealed the law. Now the Republicans are promising to tear up a huge program after it has been in place for several years. That is a substantially different prospect.
Yesterday, Republicans took a huge bet on the 2014 election that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act will be a train wreck and Democrats took an equally large bet it would be relatively successful. This could end up being the most important event of the 2014 election.