Cassidy vs Landrieu: will the 2014 Senate race be a referendum on health care?

Baton Rouge Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy is on the web today, announcing his campaign against Sen. Mary Landrieu in 2014.

In a video and in an interview Wednesday morning on WAFB-TV, Cassidy makes it clear that he will be running against President Obama as much or more than Landrieu. That strategy worked for Sen. David Vitter in 2010 against Charlie Melancon.

Like generals, politicians often fight the next war using the tactics from the last (in fact, Vitter’s able longtime communications director, Joel DiGrado, will be managing Cassidy’s campaign).

But what worked for Vitter in 2010 may not work so well for Cassidy in 2014.

For one thing, the 2014 Obama will not be the 2010 Obama.

In 2010, Obama was at the depths of his unpopularity in Louisiana, because of Obamacare in part, but mostly because of the poor economy. The president was still facing the prospect of re-election in 2012, a scary proposition for many Louisianians, and one that Vitter exploited with great skill.

This year, having been safely re-elected, Obama doesn’t scare Louisiana voters as he once did. Sure, he’s still not hugely popular here, but he is more popular than Gov. Bobby Jindal. That’s not nothing.

Cassidy’s issue, for now at least, appears to be Landrieu’s support for Obamacare.

That, too, may not be the potent issue that he and his fellow Republicans believe it to be. Obamacare may be unpopular among Louisianians, but in 2010 it was an abstraction. In 2014, it will be a complete reality and, I believe, not nearly as compelling an issue as Vitter once made it.

It’s one thing to persuade people that a bill — still not fully implemented in 2010 — will destroy the country. It’s quite another to face the reality that it didn’t actually destroy the country.

As more and more GOP governors take advantage of healthcare reform’s Medicaid expansion, for example, Cassidy may find the vilification of Obamacare even more difficult to sell. Of course, vilifying Obamacare will always sell with the hard right, but that doesn’t guarantee you 50 percent plus one.

In fact, if you want to know where a good portion of Louisiana voters’ dissatisfaction over health care resides, consult the Southern Media poll released yesterday. Turns out that the voters think that Jindal and his policies are a big part of the problem.

Sixty-four percent of those polled said they oppose Jindal’s plan to privatize the state’s public hospitals. Asked what progress had been made in Louisiana on health care in the past four years, voters overwhelming (75 percent) said “little” or “no progress.” And voters don’t want to see further cuts in health care. Seventy-seven percent said that this part of the budget had been cut enough.

If Cassidy wants this election to be a referendum on who has done the most damage to health care in Louisiana — Obama or Jindal — perhaps Landrieu will be delighted to be tossed into that briar patch.

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5 Responses to Cassidy vs Landrieu: will the 2014 Senate race be a referendum on health care?

  1. gritsngumbo says:

    Well said.

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  2. Dr. Richard Webb says:

    I have been extremely disappointed in Dr. Cassidy. If he has a positive record on which to run for the Senate seat, his spinners have not done very well in putting it out there. All we have heard from him is the “Repeal Obamacare” sound bite, simply a rhetorical obstructionist mantra, which one would hope (as you have suggested) soon will be moot. He is a fine doctor and an intelligent gentleman. I actually thought he might be an effective doer and consensus builder–wrong again.

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  3. Bob in BR says:

    In these days of radical extremism, of which Bill Cassidy is definitely one, Mary Landrieu has been effective for Louisiana by practicing a moderate viewpoint in Congress while not hesitating to fight strongly for our state when needed to. She is not perfect but at least will listen to an opposing viewpoint which more than you can say for “Uber-Con” Cassidy. Is there truth to the rumor that Cassidy’s wife, also a doctor, is opening up a school to take advantage of Jindal’s pay to preach school program?
    Senator Landrieu practices a style of politics reminiscent of John Breaux who was an excellent statesman from Louisiana. A more moderate, sensible Congress is exactly what we have needed for a long time and she fits that bill.
    Cassidy plans to run a campaign by tying her into President Obama but forgets she was elected long before he was in the picture. The President is doing a pretty good job anyhow so please don’t tell Cassidy.

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  4. TJ says:

    Wishful thinking. I have yet to speak to anyone who has confidence in Obamacare.

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