Continued from page 1

Mr. Marsden said that when he breaks down the individual components of Marketplace Virginia for constituents, they’re receptive to the granular parts and philosophy. But the conversation invariably turns back to Obamacare — a subject the GOP is banking on propelling them to success in this year’s midterm elections.

“The politics of this is such that it is very difficult for those Republicans to pull the rug out from under the entire political strategy of their party in 2014,” Mr. Holsworth said.

Another difference between this year and past budget disputes is the public relations battle.

Neither Mr. McAuliffe nor the General Assembly are particularly popular with voters, for whom polls suggest Medicaid remains a fairly obscure priority.

In 2004, amid a budget standoff between Democratic Gov. Mark R. Warner and Republicans, it wasn’t until lawmakers adjourned that it became evident the GOP was taking the bulk of the heat from constituents. Voter sentiment could become clearer, though, as the state moves toward a June 30 deadline for a historic state government shutdown if no deal is reached.

“The brinkmanship will continue,” Mr. Holsworth said. “I don’t think either side at the moment believes that public opinion has shifted dramatically against them. Sometime before July 1, the governor’s going to have to decide whether he’s going to the brink on this.”