HHS Mandate Debate Will Affect Top 2012 Senate Races

Politics   |   Andrew Bair   |   Mar 20, 2012   |   7:48PM   |   Washington, DC

The HHS Mandate continues to impact 2012’s most competitive Senate races. Despite the fact that the Blunt Amendment, the measure to ensure conscience rights for employers morally opposed to certain HHS-mandated services under Obamacare, failed in the Senate, the issue has not faded away. Senate Democrats had hoped the vote on the Blunt Amendment would put an end to the issue.

They had even tried to divert attention away from the unpopular mandate by making a martyr of abortion activist and law student Sandra Fluke. But poll after poll shows in many key races where the Democrat supports the mandate and the Republican stands in opposition, it is the Republican seeing a bump.

Following inappropriate comments made by Rush Limbaugh (which were roundly condemned by Republican leadership), Democrats marketed Sandra Fluke as the true victim in the HHS mandate controversy. Democrats simultaneously portrayed Fluke as a victim while victimizing pro-life advocates, religious institutions, employers and the Constitution itself. While President Obama called Sandra Fluke personally to apologize for Rush Limbaugh, he has yet to apologize to millions of Americans who will be forced to violate their consciences in order to comply with his pro-abortion healthcare law.

The Democratic-controlled Senate may have sealed its fate with its rejection of the Blunt Amendment. Despite their convoluted victimology, Senate Democrats have put themselves in a precarious position with voters. No matter how much they try to exploit Rush Limbaugh’s comments, Sandra Fluke and the HHS mandate are doing them no favors. In fact, the opposite is becoming apparent.

In the Nevada Senate race, incumbent Senator Dean Heller (R), who voted in favor of the Blunt Amendment, has soared to a seven-point lead over pro-abortion Congresswoman Shelly Berkley (D) according to new Rasmussen Polling. The poll found Heller leading 47%-40% against Berkley.  The new numbers come after weeks of the Berkley campaign hammering Heller on the HHS mandate, going as far as to call the Blunt Amendment vote “the Fort Sumter of the war on women.”  Berkley’s extreme rhetoric is doing her no favors in the polls. Nevadans are learning through the course of the campaign that Berkley does not have their interests at heart. Not only does she oppose basic First Amendment conscience rights but she also supports abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy.

In Missouri, incumbent pro-abortion Senator Claire McCaskill (D) trails all of her Republican opponents by margins of four to ten percentage points. Pro-life State Treasurer Sarah Steelman (R) leads McCaskill 51%-41%. Pro-life Congressman Todd Akin leads McCaskill 50%-43%. The McCaskill campaign dispatched the Senator’s mother to lead the charge against the purported Republican “war on women.” Betty Anne McCaskill wrote in a fundraising email for the campaign, “Please don’t let the Republicans have their way on this. Don’t let them wage war on women. Show them that we know how to defeat them by making a contribution to Claire’s campaign today.”

Massachusetts, long considered one of the bluest states in the Union, continues to buck long-standing tradition by giving incumbent Republican Senator Scott Brown a convincing lead over his pro-abortion Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren.  Rasmussen Polling finds Brown with a five-point lead over Warren, though some other polls have indicated Brown may be ahead by as much as ten points. Commenting on the Blunt Amendment, Warren said, “This is an extreme attack on every one of us. It opens the door to outright discrimination. It would let insurance companies and corporations cut off pregnant women, overweight guys, older Americans, or anyone — because some executive claims it’s part of his moral code. Maybe that wouldn’t happen, but I don’t want to take the chance.” Even the state that repeatedly elected Ted Kennedy can see through Warren’s factually deficient tirades.

In Florida, Congressman Connie Mack (R) has soared to a seven-point lead over pro-abortion incumbent Senator Bill Nelson (D), who voted to table the Blunt Amendment. Just a month ago, Mack and Nelson were tied at 41%. Now, Mack leads by a margin of 43%-36%. Mack ripped Senator Nelson for his opposition to conscience rights, saying “Just a few weeks ago, (Nelson) told the people of Florida that ‘church-affiliated organizations should be exempt’ from the massive overreach of Obamacare’s contraception mandate. But, as he’s done so many times before, after telling the people of Florida one thing, he’s now done the opposite and voted in lockstep with President Obama and other Washington liberals to block an amendment that would allow church organizations an exemption from this mandate that violates Americans’ First Amendment rights. That’s wrong. The people of Florida have had more than enough of Senator Nelson’s doublespeak. When I am sworn as our state’s next U.S. senator, Floridians will be able to rely on two consistent conservatives voting on their behalf in Washington.”

In Montana, incumbent pro-abortion Senator Jon Tester (D) came under fire for his vote against the Blunt Amendment. And the latest Rasmussen poll shows him trailing his Republican challenger pro-life Congressman Denny Rehberg by three points. Tester called the Blunt Amendment “a reckless attempt to undermine individual freedom and restrict access to health care for women.” Rehberg on the other hand has been outspoken in defense of basic conscience rights and against the pro-abortion Obama healthcare law.

Nationally, a recent New York Times/CBS Poll confirmed that the majority of Americans oppose the HHS mandate. 57% of Americans believe that faith-based institutions should be able to opt out of the Obama Administration mandate. (This is essentially what the Blunt Amendment would have done.) 51% of Americans go further and would like to see all employers have the option of bypassing the Administration’s rule.

The absurd “war on women” rhetoric by the pro-abortion lobby is evidently backfiring on its most ardent supporters in Congress. In key races and nationally, Democrats are finding the HHS mandate to be as unpopular as the law that laid its foundation, Obamacare. A simple search on Twitter for the hashtag #WarOnWomen shows the majority of the tweets mocking the pro-abortion fear mongering.

Pro-life Republican women have also responded to set the record straight. Just today, pro-life Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) commented on the issue at a leadership press conference.  Her remarks coincided with an op-ed published in The Daily Caller in which she notes President Obama stands at his lowest level of support among women in his four years in office.