By Sheila Timmons - 04/26/14 06:00 AM EDT
To many Democrats, ObamaCare is a four-letter word.
In a review of battleground races, The Hill found that out of 50 Democratic candidates with active campaign websites, only 11 mention the healthcare law by name, either as "ObamaCare," "Affordable Care Act," or "ACA." Fourteen more mention the law, but not its name, and half the candidates omit it entirely from their websites.
President Obama has trumpeted that more than 8 million people have enrolled in ACA-related plans. Meanwhile, congressional Democrats have been more cautious, focusing on jobs and the economy.
"On campaign websites, nobody has to say anything they don't want to say," said David Karol, associate professor of government at the University of Maryland. "What they have on their website shows what they think will be helpful to them — not what is important to them."
Republicans, on the other hand, clearly find talking about ObamaCare helpful, as 55 out of the 83 candidates in the same House contests mentioned the law by name on their websites.
The same trends were seen in an analysis of Senate candidates' websites. Of 37 Republican candidates with active websites, 27 mentioned ObamaCare by name. In the same races, 14 of 20 Democrats don't mention it at all, including Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska), Kay Hagan(N.C.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Udall (Colo.) and John Walsh (Mont.) as well as challengers Michelle Nunn (Ga.) and Alison Lundergan Grimes (Ky.).
Republicans running for the Senate aren't as shy.
"ObamaCare is a cancer on our national economy and it threatens the quality of every American's health care," Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) asserts on his website.
"In Washington, politicians rarely admit when their policies aren't working," Terri Lynn Land (R-Mich.) states. "That is exactly what is happening today as a result of the health care law passed in 2009, commonly known as ObamaCare."
Polls have consistently shown that ObamaCare isn't popular, though leading Democrats predict that will change by Election Day on Nov. 4.
A few Democrats, such as Reps. John Tierney (Mass.), Cheri Bustos (Ill.) and Ami Bera (Calif.), refer to the health law in somewhat vague terms or criticize it.
Tierney calls it "historic health insurance reform," and Bustos's website says, "The new reform law is not perfect, but makes real improvements in our health care system."
Bera states, "The legislation signed into law makes strides to reform our broken system. However, the law fails to adequately address runaway costs."
"Democrats have a more complicated story to tell," Karol said. "There are parts of the law that are very popular."
Bob Dold (R-Ill.), who is running for his old seat against incumbent Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), acknowledges this on his website: "My position on the Affordable Care Act that was passed by Congress in 2010 has been consistent. I support parts of what was signed into law, but unfortunately I do not support aspects of the law that are having, and will continue to have, a severe adverse impact on jobs, businesses, and families in our district."
Some House Democrats simply don't say anything about the law. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz.), Ron Barber (Ariz.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Bill Enyart (Ill.), Ann Kuster (N.H.), and Pete Gallego (Texas) all avoid the issue.
Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), running in a conservative-leaning district, has said, "Heads ought to roll" over ObamaCare-related problems and noted he wants people to keep their health plans if they like them.
Rep. Chris Gibson (N.Y.), who is running in a district Obama won in 2012, is one of the few Republicans who doesn't mention the ACA on his campaign site.
Richard Tisei, a Republican seeking Tierney's seat in the congressman's blue district, calls ObamaCare a failure "despite the best intentions of its authors and the president."