Frum’s argument actually makes a good case that replacement is the fantasy scenario. Repeal may not happen, but it is much more likely that there will be enough Republican votes in next year’s Senate to repeal the law than it is that they will reach a consensus on what to put in its place. It is quite possible that any time spent on repeal will be perceived by the public as time wasted. Far from being the obvious political winner that many partisans assume it to be, it could prove to be a major liability for the party in future elections. Just as Republicans have denounced passage of the bill as a distraction from economic issues, you can be sure that Democrats will use the same rhetoric to denounce attempts to repeal it, which could set Republicans up for a repudiation at the polls in 2014 similar to the one Democrats experienced in 2010.
Yglesias agrees that Romney could repeal Obamacare:
Technically speaking, since repealing the bill would increase the budget deficit, it should be ineligible for the budget reconciliation process that Democrats used to pass the bill in the first place with only 59 votes. In reality, this is unlikely to make a difference to a determined GOP. Back in 2001 and 2003, Republicans were able to find gimmicks to pass giant tax cuts under reconciliation orders, and in this case conservatives sincerely believe that the CBO is mistaken and repeal would reduce the deficit. Scrapping the law, in other words, should be a pretty easy lift for Republicans—if they win the election.
Ezra Klein is also focused on the election:
The winner will clearly decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act, if only by deciding whether it survives to 2014. And he will likely get the opportunity to appoint one or more justices, which could decide whether the Supreme Court continues its rightward shift or swings back towards the left. So while little changed yesterday, it was a reminder of how much could change in November.
Earlier Dish on the subject here.