Even after House Republicans led the government to a shutdown in October, Democrats have little to no chance of retaking the lower chamber. Among other factors, the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act has caused potential candidates to drop out or wait for a better climate, and thrown up in the air the safety of Democratic incumbents across the country. In his most recent forecast, David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report writes that Democrats would now need to win 42 of 43 the competitive races in 2014 to capture the House. Here are three House races where Obamacare could strengthen John Boehner’s grip on the Speaker’s gavel.
1st District of New Hampshire
Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter is facing former Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta in 2014, her nemesis during the past two elections. Their rivalry is tied one-to-one, with Guinta winning in 2010 with 54 percent of the vote and Porter in 2012 with 50 percent. If the past few weeks are any indication, the 2014 election will be just as heated as the last two.
On Dec. 10, the National Republican Congressional Committee released a 60-second radio ad ripping Shea-Porter’s support for Obamacare. A day later, the New Hampshire Union Leader wrote a scathing editorial criticizing Shea-Porter’s defense, tying her to the president’s broken “if you like it you can keep it” promise. “Washington Republicans should take down their misleading attack ads and stop frightening Granite Staters who hold individual policies from Anthem, because they can indeed renew their policies and keep their current doctors and hospitals,” Shea-Porter spokesman Ben Wakana responded in the local paper.
On Dec. 19, American Action Network released a Charles Dickens-themed online ad, “The Spirit of Healthcare Future” targeting Shea-Porter. On the same day, Shea-Porter introduced legislation that would extend the payment deadline for consumers to Jan. 31 before their first month’s premium is due. America’s Health Insurance Plans will currently accept payments through Jan. 10 for coverage that begins Jan. 1.
Porter’s seat is a “toss-up,” according to the Cook Political Report.
1st District of Arizona
In mid-November, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick was the only Democrat representing a district Mitt Romney carried in the 2012 presidential election to vote against the Republicans’ “Keep Your Health Care Plan” Obamacare fix, according to National Journal. The bill, which the White House opposed, would have allowed insurers to continue to sell existing policies outside the insurance exchanges to anyone next year. A month later, Kirkpatrick offered her own fix, introducing legislation that would provide retroactive insurance coverage to New Year’s Day for individuals who tried to enroll in one of the exchange’s health care plans prior to Dec. 23, 2013, as long as they enroll and pay their premium by Jan. 31, 2014. Kirkpatrick also signed up as a co-sponsor to Shea-Porter’s bill extending the payment deadline for consumers to Jan. 31.
Kirkpatrick was bounced from office in 2010 but captured her redistricted seat in 2012 with 49 percent of the vote.
24th District of New York
Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei is running to the right of his caucus on Obamacare, a clear sign that he is feeling the pressure from his potential Republican competitors, which one Syracuse paper says number at “least a dozen.” He was one of 39 Democrats that voted against the “Keep Your Health Care Plan.” Maffei was thrown out in the 2010 Tea Party wave, then regained his seat in 2012 with 48 percent of the vote. Still, the district leans blue; Obama won his district in 2012 with 57 percent of the vote, according to Daily Kos.
“Look, I supported the Affordable Care Act, but not without reservations,” Maffei said at a town hall meeting in September, adding that he saw problems in both parties’ established positions. “Too many Democrats, even though they know that things might be likely flaws, they want to just say well we shouldn’t make any changes [and] we should just implement as is,” said Maffei. “Too many Republicans, they don’t want to even give it a chance. They just want to repeal it.”
One major advantage Maffei will have over any challenger is fundraising. Maffei has raised over $900,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and is one of 26 members, along with Kirkpatrick and Shea-Porter, who are supported by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Frontline program to protect vulnerable incumbents. Almost $10 million was spent in the 2012 campaign for Maffei’s seat, making it the district’s most expensive race ever.