Michael Barone

Some polls show "fix it" to be as popular as "repeal." But Republicans, including Jolly, have already been maneuvering around that, as the panzers maneuvered through the Ardennes, by coming out for "repeal and replace."

And congressional Republicans have come forward with intellectually serious and probably politically appealing "repeal and replace" alternatives.

Another alternative for a campaign on the defensive is to change the subject. But the Sink campaign did not see fit to stress themes the president has been voicing, addressing "income inequality" by raising the minimum wage or increasing overtime pay.

Those policies get wide approval in polls. But there's little evidence that they're important enough to voters to swing votes.

Instead, the Sink campaign trotted out traditional Democratic themes. Republicans would "privatize" Social Security. They would threaten Medicare.

But "hands off Social Security and Medicare" doesn't seem capable of gaining ground, even in Florida-13 with its large elderly population.

In 2012, Democrats hammered Rep. Paul Ryan's plans for Social Security. But by bringing the issue out in the open, they allowed Ryan to make clear, as his invariable first point, that he would change nothing for anyone over 55. Grandma remained unscarred.

On Medicare, it's not the Republicans but the Democrats who are cutting -- as part of Obamacare -- funding for Medicare Advantage plans. That may not scare Grandma, but it's not likely to make her vote Democratic. The Romney-Ryan ticket carried Florida's elderly.

Looking ahead, Democratic incumbents and candidates in seven states carried by Mitt Romney are running under 50 percent in polls. That's true also of Democrats in four 2012 presidential target states carried by Obama.

Obamacare leaves those Democrats in a position that resembles Gamelin's: They have no good alternatives.

Except to hope for mistakes by Republicans -- who have shown quite capable of mistakes in the past. We'll see how many they make this time.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM