As of Saturday, the 2014 midterm elections are finally over. Louisiana closed out this election season with U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) defeating incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana). Landrieu was the last of the Democratic senators to lose their reelection bid, and Republicans now have a 54-seat majority in the U.S. Senate.
This was clearly what some pundits would define as a “wave election,” but the question is, what caused the wave? There are many factors that could have caused this Republican wave, but it seems there may be one at the forefront, and that is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is commonly known as Obamacare. U.S. President Barack Obama’s signature law has been falling in popularity as the days go by, and it seems that voters took to the polls this November to oppose the law.
Obama was elected in 2008 under a huge Democratic wave, giving his party control of the U.S. House of Representatives and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. With this majority, the Democrats were finally able to pass health care reform. It is interesting to note that of the 60 Democratic senators who voted for Obamacare, only 30 remain in office, and of the 30 that left office, over half or 16 were replaced by Republicans.
In this election cycle, at-risk Democrats tried to portray themselves as independent voices, and although they had a “D” next to their names, they would stand against Obama on issues not popular in their state. Yet it is hard to portray yourself as an independent when your voting record shows that you voted for one of the most controversial laws in modern history.
It should be known that it only takes one vote from each side of the aisle for a law to be considered “bipartisan,” and yet, this is a tagline that cannot be applied to Obamacare. In fact, the basic process by which a law is created was circumvented for Obamacare, as Senate Democrats were about to lose their filibuster-proof majority with the election of former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts).
There are some who say that because Obama was reelected in 2012, the public approved of his health care law. But those who make that claim forget one basic point: Obama’s signature law did not go into effect until after the 2012 election.
The law then went into effect, the website crashed and Republicans finally got the evidence they needed against the law. Since then, the president’s approval rating — along with approval for the law — has dipped. This collapse of the president’s approval was capped off in November, as Republican’s gained nine seats in the Senate.
There are now even Democrats admitting that the law has been a political disaster. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) recently criticized his own party for the strategy they took regarding Obamacare, claiming that 2009-10 was not the right time to focus on health care, and the main focus of the party should have been to end the recession.
That mistake has now cost the Democrats dearly. They lost control of the House in 2010, and although they held onto the presidency in 2012, they failed to make any significant gains in Congress. This has all led up to the GOP wave in November, which brought Republicans one of their biggest majorities in the history of the party.
While this is all important, what is more important is the future of Obamacare. Will the law hold up against more legal channels, and if it does not, how will the U.S. healthcare system be impacted? Will premiums rise, or will they fall in the coming years? Regardless, there should be little doubt that this law has been a massive political disaster for Democrats.