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Markos Moulitsas: ACA a win for Dems

OPINION l Republicans, convinced that opposition to ObamaCare will translate to victory, are betting the 2014 elections on the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Given their utter lack of positive agenda, it’s probably a better approach than just admitting “we’ve got nothing,” but it’s certainly not a bet I would take.

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A new Washington Post/ABC News poll last week found voters split on their opinion of candidates who supported the new healthcare law. Thirty-four percent of respondents said they’d be more likely to vote for a pro-ACA candidate, while 36 percent said they’d be less likely. That’s a big swing from November 2013, when just 21 percent said they’d be more likely to support an ObamaCare backer to 37 percent who wouldn’t.

And that’s been a steady trend over several polls: Opposition to the law may not be waning, but support is certainly growing. As more people benefit from the law, they and their social and family circles will inevitably embrace it. It’s the reason the GOP has gone to such great lengths to sabotage its implementation.

But in spite of the obstinance of Republican governors and legislatures — and tens of millions of dollars of Koch brothers spending — support for the law is increasing. And just as importantly, the law is working. A new Gallup survey Monday found that the number of uninsured in the country has decreased by 3-4 million.

And therein lies the GOP’s dilemma. Republicans got great mileage out of President Obama’s broken promise that people would be able to keep their insurance if they liked it. In their telling, one of ObamaCare’s greatest sins was taking away the insurance people already had. But now, they’re the ones who are campaigning to strip insurance from millions of people. And individual elements of the ACA, including allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance, banning denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and closing the Medicare “doughnut hole,” poll extremely well. Republicans running on full repeal are running against those popular provisions.

Take Kentucky, for example, which boasts one of the nation’s two most successful ACA implementations. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is running neck-and-neck against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in a marquee November Senate match-up. Thus far, McConnell has maintained a comfortable lead against a Tea Party primary challenger by running hard on repeal. But doing so inevitably complicates his general-election chances.

As of last week, 265,000 Kentuckians — 41 percent of the state’s pre-ACA uninsured — are enrolled in Kynect, the state’s insurance marketplace, with 211,000 of them receiving Medicaid subsidies. In 2010, Kentucky’s last Senate election in a nonpresidential year, 1.35 million people voted. Assuming all things remain equal, about 20 percent of the electorate is now benefiting from ObamaCare. And with McConnell promising to pull the plug on their insurance, they have new motivation to turn out and vote Democratic.

Like 35-year-old Ronald Hudson, a white father of five making $14,000 before taxes in rural Kentucky. Signing up for insurance for the first time in his life, he told The Washington Post, “Well, thank God. I believe I’m going to be a Democrat.”

By the time enrollment closes for 2014, fully a quarter of the Kentucky electorate might be benefiting from ObamaCare, making McConnell’s reelection bid that much more complicated. And that scene will play out, writ large, across the nation in 2014 — and even more dramatically in 2016.

Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.