The argument shows how far Democrats have retreated from the heady days when they rammed Obamacare through Congress over unanimous GOP opposition. Democrats can't argue that most people actually like the new law, and indeed many Democratic candidates have adopted a new mantra that it needs to be "fixed." But at least voters don't want to scrap it altogether.
The problem is, the truth may be a little more complicated than that. A new Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll asked voters whether various policy positions would make them more or less likely to vote for a candidate for Congress this November. For example, would respondents be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who "supports repealing the health care reform law?" Would they be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who "supports fixing and keeping the health care reform law?"
The Journal found that 47 percent of those surveyed would be more likely to support a candidate who favors repeal, while 32 percent would be less likely, and 19 percent said it made no difference either way.
On the other question, 45 percent said they would be more likely to support a candidate who supports keeping and fixing Obamacare, while 42 percent said they would be less likely, and 11 percent said it made no difference either way.
What to make of the numbers? On the most basic level, they show a few more people would be drawn to a candidate who favors repeal than a "keep and fix" candidate. They also show a few more would be turned off by a "keep and fix" candidate than would be turned off by a repeal candidate.
On a larger level, the numbers suggest more intensity on the repeal side. If there is an invigorated, passionate "hands off my Obamacare" faction, it's not very big.
That could be one reason why Democrats seem so vexed over how to handle Obamacare in midterm campaigning. Many have adopted the "keep and fix" approach used unsuccessfully by Democrat Alex Sink in the recent special election to fill the House seat in Florida's 13th Congressional District. The problem is, they're strong on the "keep" part but confused on the "fix" part.