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U.S.: Politics 2014 - October 2013 Helps Shape Message for November 2014
Source: upi.com
Source Date: Sunday, October 27, 2013
Focus: Knowledge Management in Government
Country: United States
Created: Oct 28, 2013

The U.S. government shutdown, immigration reform, budget woes, problems with the Affordable Care Act online enrollment created a whirlpool of controversy and contretemps for Washington and provided blood-stirring language for the 2014 midterm elections and beyond.

Poll after poll after poll released after the federal government partially closed because the money ran out were variations on a theme: Republicans took a hit. A big hit.

President Obama and Democrats didn't come through unscathed, but definitely not as tarnished as Republicans in the budget confrontation.

Obama, however, took it on the chin with the less-than-smooth rollout of healthcare.gov, the site for Americans looking for and enrolling in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

The site went up on the same day the government shut down, so Obama's pain didn't begin until it became the only political game in town two weeks later.

When the House and Senate -- despite pleas from Tea Party-backed Republicans -- overwhelmingly passed a bill that both temporarily funded government and pushed out the nation's borrowing authority, the fingers began pointing.

Obama is racing to try to debug the website. Republicans, however, are still finger-pointing and haven't really done anything to tamp down the battle royale fomenting between the establishment and Tea Party wings.

While the midterm elections are little more than a year away, some observers say what happened this month won't affect an outcome in the 2014 elections. Others, however, aren't so sure.

Seven Senate seats now held by Republicans could be worrisome for the incumbents in the party primaries, Roll Call reported last week.

It's still too early to know how competitive many of the challengers -- former Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter Liz Cheney challenging Michael Enzi in Wyoming, conservative Louisville, Ky., businessman Matt Bevin taking on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and state Sen. Chris McDaniel's run against Thad Cochran in Mississippi -- but the ride could be bumpy and expensive.

A primary defeat of any of a group of pragmatic Republicans -- which includes McConnell, Enzi and Cochran (if he decides to seek re-election next year) -- would further embolden the Tea Party movement in 2016 and further rend the GOP, non-partisan political handicapper Stuart Rothenberg said in a Roll Call commentary.

Those who consider compromise capitulation say they're trying to run the most conservative candidates in the reddest of states. But they have a blind spot, namely holding on to Republican-held seats in purple or bluish states.

The de facto congressional leader of the Tea Party movement, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, led a drive to defund Obamacare as a condition of funding the government and House conservatives followed his lead, despite grumblings from moderates. Their fight fizzled and they came away from the deal that reopened the federal government with nothing except a damaged party brand.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called the effort to defund Obamacare in the run-up to the government shutdown "a political gift" to Obama and the Democrats while urging lawmakers who backed the quixotic move to "do some soul-searching."

"I think we've learned that this was a political gift to the president by the Republican Party at a time when he needed it most," Graham recently on CBS's "Face the Nation." "The tactic of defunding the government unless he repealed his signature issue was as poorly designed as Obamacare itself, almost."

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