From Paul Krugman’s “Attack of the Killer Hipsters” at his Conscience of a Liberal NYT blog:
Never mind the polls showing approval of Obamacare moving one way or the other; they are all being taken in an environment where people are amazingly ignorant about the law, with a large minority believing that it has been repealed. What matters is how the thing works — and that, in turn, depends crucially on sufficient numbers of young, currently uninsured people signing up for the exchanges. Advocates will try to get those people signed up; Republicans will try to convince them not to. So how are the two sides’ chances.
A good point. Polls and how they are spun matter less for the implementation of Obamacare than how the universe of potential participants responds to the requirements and opportunities presented by the act. Krugman correctly identifies some key demographic groups that must step up for Obamacare to succeed — the young, non-affluent and largely non-white uninsured. He quotes Jonathan Chait on the challenge:
Fortunately for Obama, this field of battle favors his side. To pass the law, he needed to win over skeptical senators. To defend it in court, he needed conservative jurists. But identifying and persuading young people is a battle Obama does not expect to lose to Republicans, and in place of the federal outreach funds, the administration is deploying a campaignlike array of weapons: microtargeting, including door-to-door outreach, and all forms of media. (A few weeks ago, Katy Perry tweeted out a link informing her 42 million followers that health care was available beginning October 1.)
No doubt the Obamacare mobilization is also tapping African American and Latino icons to reach youth of color (we hope). In any case, it’s an option that the right doesn’t have. Hard to imagine the wingnuts having the Nuge or Kid Rock doing ads saying “Hey don’t sign up for Obamacare. It sucks” persuading many youth to disobey the mandate, compared to Perry’s positive pitch.
Dems have other unique advantages, as Krugman explains:
But that’s not all: there are also channels of influence the party of Fox News simply cannot reach: Spanish-language radio and TV, black churches (which played a big role in 2012), and more.
I don’t know whether anyone thought this out in advance, but the battle of the exchanges is indeed being fought on remarkably favorable ground for the reformers. And I, for one, find the thought of conservatives humiliated by an army of tweeting hipsters remarkably cheering.
Implementing the Affordable Care Act is not going to be an easy struggle going forward. But Krugman’s and Chait’s insight that supporters of the legislation have some significant advantages makes sense — and look a lot more promising at this political moment than Sen. Cruz’s ready-for-his-close-up drama queen antics do for the right.