How it’s done: Mark Begich campaigns on Obamacare

If the Democrats don’t hang together on Obamacare, they will be sure to hang separately.

As long as the polls show the net favorables for “Obamacare” under water, there will be a temptation for Democrats, especially in Red states, to run away from it. That approach is (1) cowardly (2) wrong and (3) futile.

If people hate the ACA, they’re not going to love Democratic candidates.And if Democrats don’t stand up and brag about about the program’s good points, lazy reporters will keep reporting, “objectively,” that it is a disaster, and low-information voters will believe them. There’s a bit of a collective-action problem here; no one wants to be out of step with everyone else, but it’s also a case of “hang together or hang separately.” The only sane approach for Democrats as group is to be loud and proud about what a great idea it is to protect people from the risks of disease, the vagaries of the job market, the rapacity of some elements of the medical-care system, and the cold-bloodedness of health insurers.

Like this ad from the Mark Begich campaign in Alaska [correction: it’s actually from an independent-expenditure group]:

h/t Martin Longman at Washington Monthly.0 Longman’s piece, about the “hack gap,” is worth reading. I’d add that it applies to politicians as well as pundits.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

3 thoughts on “How it’s done: Mark Begich campaigns on Obamacare”

  1. I wish this was from the Begich campaign. It's actually from an outside group. Hopefully Begich will see the positive response this ad is getting and tailor his message accordingly (if that's not considered "coordinating").

  2. " …no one wants to be out of step with everyone else …" Why? Party discipline and solidarity in the US is very weak. An attack ad on the lines of "Democratic candidate X in another state says different" does not strike me as a winner. Natuonal party machines can influence campaigns by steering money; What signals are going out from say Debbie Wassernan-Schultz?

    1. Party discipline – or at least ideological discipline – is incredibly strong on the Right, and perhaps not inconsiderable on the Left. No Republican office holder (let alone office seeker) should really care what the chair of the RNC thinks or says, but they know that if they're caught with a single foot out of place where it matters the party's rabid, angry base will eat them alive.

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