Will Obamacare Become Invisible?

Krugman claims that Obamacare “is going to work, it’s going to be extremely popular, and it’s going to wreak havoc with conservative ideology.” Ezra, on the other hand, bets that “stories about various problems in the implementation of Obamacare will be a net negative for Democrats in 2014, and after that, the program will cease to matter much politically at all – even as it works pretty well, and the coverage it offers is pretty popular”:

The key thing to remember about how people will experience Obamacare is that most people won’t experience it at all, and those who do experience it will never, ever experience a program named “Obamacare.”

If the law works, then a decade from now, about 25 million people will be insured through Obamacare. About half of them will be insured through Medicaid. The other half will be insured through state insurance marketplaces with names like “Covered California” and “Health Access CT.” They’ll get this insurance because their minister will mention it to them or because their community health clinic will sign them up. Few of these people are likely to connect their coverage to that Obamacare thing they heard about a lot back in 2010.

Beutler counters:

If the implementation fails, then it will be a disaster for Democrats for obvious reasons.

But let’s say it goes pretty well. In the White House’s mind, that means about 7 million people in exchanges, about one-third of whom will be young voters. It also means a few million more on Medicaid. That’s not very many people compared to all the folks whose insurance benefits won’t change at all. But it’s still a lot of people! Moreover, not all of these people are going to be partisan Democratic voters, and they almost certainly won’t be people who reliably vote in midterm elections. But they will come into this new benefit in an election year and suddenly be confronted with the fact that one party wants to rescind it, and quickly.

That’s why I think Republicans will dial back the repeal efforts, or maybe even change their campaign strategy more broadly. If they don’t, though, a modest but substantial number of people who might have otherwise sat out November will have a very good reason to vote.