Yesterday the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted once again to repeal Obamacare in fullâ€”a vote that passed 229-115 on party-lines besides two democrats who crossed over.Â Not the least bit surprising was that Rep. Bruce Braley once again voted in favor of Obamacareâ€”but my how much different this must have felt than his first vote for it three years ago.
A Different Landscape
Besides the obvious fact that Braley is now a U.S. Senate candidate, a variety of things made yesterdayâ€™s vote a much bigger political gamble.
Consider this, on the day the Senate passed Obamacare through the Reconciliation processâ€”March 25th 2010â€”the Real Clear Politics approval rating for Congress was a shocking 17.4% approve to 77% disapprove.Â As bad as that seems, at that time in 2010 there was still a residue of â€œchangeâ€ excitement in the air, theÂ Tea Party wasÂ only just forming, Democrats had not yet lost theÂ House,Â and President Obama could still credibly make the argument (especially to Independents) that he had successful solutions to the nationâ€™s problem.
Since that day however the absolute failure of the trillion-dollar Stimulus Bill has been fully revealed, the implementation of Obamacare has been continually problematic, the economy has not recovered, and the national debt has further ballooned.Â And this is not even to mention the numerous scandals and mini-scandals that have surrounded the administration for the past week and a half.
Perhaps even more troubling for Braleyâ€™s Senate candidacy is that the mood of the public is remarkably similar to the grim view they had the day Obamacare passed.Â The following are the RCP polling averages from then and now: Congressional approval on March 25th 2010 wasÂ 17.4% approve to 77% disapproveâ€”Congressional approval from 5 days ago on May 9thÂ stood atÂ 16.8% approve to 76% disapprove.Â Public approval of the Obamacare legislation one day after it passed on March 26th 2010 was 50.7% oppose to 39.4% support–and 8 days ago on May 9thÂ it was 49.8% oppose to only 39% who support.
For Braleyâ€™s purposes what perhaps will be the biggest difference from then and now is he has left the friendly confines of Iowaâ€™s 1st Congressional district (D+ 27,356) and has entered a statewide contest (D+ 4,952).Â On top of this he has just voted in favor of one of the largest and most expensive initiatives in American historyâ€”oneÂ which onlyÂ 39% of the public currently support.Â
Braley no doubt believes in this legislation to his core and will neverÂ vote against it.Â Nevertheless itâ€™s a safe bet that as he pushed the â€œnayâ€ button yesterdayÂ he was keenly aware that the circumstances had changed drastically since his first vote on the legislation.Â What has transpired since then has not been kind to the bill nor to any purple stateÂ legislators voting for it.Â
Though President Obama and many Congressional Democrats were not heldÂ accountable forÂ their economic and policy failures in 2012, at some point their luck will run out.Â IfÂ in November 2014 Obamacare still can’t even muster 40% support and implementation keeps getting more and more messy–the RepublicanÂ who emerges to challenge Braley will need less and less luck.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â