The administration's one-year delay Tuesday of a key element of Obamacare immediately spread speculation that the action was taken because of fears that its implementation would fuel voter anger and help bring down several Democratic senators in 2014.
No one in the White House, of course, will confirm this, but the delay of the mandate that businesses with 50 or more employees provide health insurance or face a fine is easily one of the most controversial parts of the Affordable Care Act and comes at a time when polls show the 2010 law is still very unpopular.
According to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 49 percent of voters nationwide consider Obamacare "a bad idea" and only 37 percent consider it "a good idea." The same survey showed 38 percent of American voters feel they will be "worse off" under the law.
Translated into the politics of the 2014 midterm elections, this could spell additional trouble for Democratic senators who voted for Obamacare and now face re-election in states where it is especially unpopular. Among those Democrats favoring Obamacare in the "endangered" column are Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Kay Hagan of North Carolina.
"We should pick up South Dakota and West Virginia," Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma told Newsmax, referring to states where Democratic Sens. Tim Johnson and Jay Rockefeller are retiring and polls show likely Republican candidates running far ahead. "And I think you'll see a growing number of incumbent Democrats in danger."
The current breakdown of the Senate is 55 Democrats and 45 Republicans, with 14 Republican-held seats and 19 Democrat-held seats up for election.
One classic case-in-point is Arkansas, where some polls show Pryor trailing freshman Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, who has yet to formally announce his candidacy. Pryor voted for Obamacare and Cotton is a strong proponent of repeal.
One seasoned observer of Razorback State politics is skeptical as to whether the administration's delay in the mandate will help Pryor.
"No, the delay won't help Sen. Pryor or any Democrats here in '14," political blogger and Arkansas Democrat Gazette columnist Rex Nelson told Newsmax. "The well is too poisoned. Anyone closely associated with Obamacare or the president will be in big trouble in Arkansas or states like it."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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