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Charlie Crist's Obamacare conundrum


Charlie Crist is in an Obamacare box.

Opposed to Obamacare when he was a Republican, Crist is now a Democrat and is all for the Affordable Care Act.

Such flip-flops and evolutions and pirouettes make Crist’s relationship with the unpopular law one of the most-complicated in the nation.

Now it might be one of the riskiest.

Yet Crist has little choice but to embrace the law right now. Running in a primary against Nan Rich, Crist needs to prove his Democratic bona fides. The Democratic base approves of the law.

“I think it’s been great,” Crist said in a CNN interview last Sunday.

It wasn’t great for Crist’s fellow Democrat Alex Sink, who narrowly lost a special election Tuesday for a congressional seat based in Crist’s home county, Pinellas.

Obamacare wasn’t the only issue in the race. But conservatives made the law a major point.

Gov. Rick Scott is doing the same in the governor’s race. His team Friday released a web ad highlighting Crist’s support for the law and President Obama’s latest backtrack on the law when he admitted some people might not be able to keep their doctors, despite the president’s prior promise.

In the just-ended congressional race, Sink’s advisers acknowledge Obamacare was a political problem. But, they said, polling data indicated she “neutralized” the issue, partly by espousing a “keep-and-fix” approach. She pointed out how the Affordable Care Act helps people with preexisting conditions and seniors with prescription-drug coverage.

Republican David Jolly wanted to repeal the law — a less-popular position than Sink’s, according to many state and national polls. But in senior-heavy Congressional District 13, Obamacare’s cuts to Medicare Advantage did Sink no favors. Nor did President Obama’s false claims that people could keep their doctors and insurance plans if they liked them.

Jolly won.

It’s a good example of the difference between measuring broad popular opinion vs. turning out voters.

“The one thing we do have to reckon with and kind of acknowledge is that the Affordable Care Act was a motivating issue for Republicans to turn out and vote — and less so for Democrats,” said Geoff Garin, Sink’s pollster.

More here