- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lawmakers and pundits marked the fourth anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act on Sunday, with Republicans predicting the troubled centerpiece of the Obama presidency will hurt the entire Democratic Party this fall.

Ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich predicted the shaky rollout will cost Democrats the Senate in November.

“They can call it the Affordable Care Act all they want to. It cost the Democrats the House in 2010, it will cost them the Senate in 2014, it will probably cost them the presidency in 2016,” Mr. Gingrich said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Mr. Gingrich’s forecast was echoed by elections guru Nate Silver, the former New York Times blogger who’s taken his statistics-analysis website, FiveThirtyEight.com, to ESPN.

In an appearance on ABC’s “The Week,” he said the Republicans have a 60 percent chance of retaking the Senate this fall, with a pickup of 6 to 11 seats.

Those prognostications flew in the face of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s prediction Thursday that the law will be a “winner” for Democrats in 2014. She also chided those who call it Obamacare, saying, “It’s called the Affordable Care Act.”

SEE ALSO: Few will use Obamacare hardship exemption, analysts say

Mr. Silver, who correctly predicted every state in the 2012 presidential election, said Republicans are likely to take three Democratic seats being vacated by retiring incumbents right off the bat in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia.

After that, Republicans need only three, and there are ripe opportunities to flip Democratic seats in Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina. Not quite as likely, but still within reach are turnovers in Alaska, Michigan, Colorado and Iowa.

“I’d say exactly six, but it’s probably six plus or minus five,” said Mr. Silver. Does that mean Republicans could win 11 seats? “They could,” he said.

As for New Hampshire, where former Sen. Scott Brown, Massachusetts Republican, is challenging Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Mr. Silver gives Republicans a 25 percent chance of ousting the Democratic incumbent.

“We think the Republican opportunity is a little overhyped. Scott Brown was extremely popular in a different state four years ago,” said Mr. Silver.

Democrats are countering by trying to boost Obamacare’s image. Neera Tanden, former senior adviser on health reform to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, said Sunday that the federal health-insurance program is working.

“I think it is delivering. When you say it can’t deliver, it has five million people signed up on the federal exchanges as we speak,” said Ms. Tanden, who now heads the liberal Center for American Progress, on CNN. “So I think saying it can’t deliver is really wrong. I think the issue here is this law is being implemented right now, people are signing up, and you’re seeing some pushback.”

The Obama administration and its supporters are advocating for more sign-ups on the federal exchange in advance of the March 31 deadline.

Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat, said the latest numbers may motivate Democrats to become more involved in the mid-term election.

“This is a snapshot in time. If Democrats are watching this broadcast, then they need to get out on the street and knocking some doors,” said Mr. Ellison on ABC. “I think this is going to motivate our base and really get out there.”

Mr. Gingrich pointed to the March 11 House election in Florida, which was won by Republican David Jolly, as an “early indicator.”

“I don’t know of a single senator in a tough re-election race who’s running around saying, Nancy Pelosi’s right,” said Mr. Gingrich. “All of them are finding some excuse to explain why they would change Obamacare in some form or another. I think that’s going to increase, not decrease.”

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