Barack Obama and his Democratic allies in the Congress have grown more confident in recent months about their ability to use the president’s signature healthcare law as a draw rather than a liability in this November’s midterm elections.
Three races in New Hampshire illustrate the challenge, offering a test of whether Democrats can overcome voter skepticism about the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The law, aiming to expand health insurance coverage to millions more Americans, has come under sustained attack from Republicans.
The president has urged Democrats campaigning in the November 4 congressional elections not to run away from “Obamacare,” but instead to “forcefully defend” it. Obama has said that a surge in enrollment shows the system is running smoothly now, after its disastrous debut last October.
New Hampshire, which is closely divided between Democrats and Republicans, is one of about 10 states where Republicans hope to make gains in order to pick up six seats they need to put the Democratic-led Senate under their control.
Senators Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana have been among the Democratic targets of anti-Obamacare ads by conservative groups such as Americans for Prosperity.
Republicans are counting on voter antipathy toward Obamacare to try to take charge of the Senate and expand their majority in the House of Representatives. But while Obamacare may now be working better, national polls clearly show more people disapprove than approve of the law.