Health Message XLV: Maybe it’s not the ‘message’ that people don’t like

Interesting post from Senator McConnell’s office on the Democrats’ failure to “message” ObamaCare:

There was yet another article this morning about Democrats working to “come together around a message” on their health spending bill, and one over the weekend about their attempts to “coordinate health messaging.” We’ve seen these headlines for two years now and heard them talking about shifting/retooling the message since the beginning. Maybe it’s not the “message” that people don’t like.
For example:

  • Two years ago, the New York Times wrote that “Democrats said they felt an urgent need to devise a ‘message’” on health care.
  • A year ago, ABC noted that “President Obama is hoping to remake his message as divisions deepen among Democrats on health care legislation.” 
  • And just last week, Politico reported on the new HHS advice to Democrats on how to talk about the bill (oh, excuse me, ‘law’).  But there are dozens of examples over the past two years (I’ve pasted some below).


How’s it been working out? Well, two years ago, polls showed modest support for the Democrats’ health spending bill. Now, after two years of “messaging,” polls show that Americans want to repeal it and that support for the bill has been upside-down for the last 18 months (and largely unchanged for the last year) of their “messaging” campaign. Oh, and there was that election in November some of you may have covered.

As you look back over these headlines, you may notice that they’ve been pushing the same thing for two years now. Maybe it’s not the “message.”

  • Democrats coordinate health messaging (Politico, February 4, 2011)
  • HHS: Call health care reform a law, not a bill (Politico, February 1, 2011)
  • Democrats seek redo of health care pitch (Politico, January 18, 2011)
  • Democrats’ Challenge: Finding Perfect Pitch For Health Overhaul Message (Kaiser Health News, January 18, 2011)
  • Democrats Seek Right Message To Boost Health Law (NPR, January 17, 2011)
  • Democrats mount new sales pitch for health-care law (Washington Post, January 9, 2011)

  • Dems prepare defense of healthcare law in face of repeal threats (The Hill, December 21, 2010)
  • Congressional Democrats look for magic campaign message to woo electorate (Oregonian, October 1, 2010)
  • Democrats Move Away From Health Cost Pitch, Focus On Changing Senior Minds (Kaiser Health News, August 20, 2010)
  • Dems retreat on health care cost pitch  (Politico, August 19, 2010)
  • Dems’ New Message On Health Care Reform: ‘Improve’ Legislation, Don’t Talk ‘Costs And Deficit’ (Huffington Post, August 9, 2010)
  • Obama, Democrats Launch Health Care Push (NPR, June 8, 2010)
  • Senate Democrats Building Broad Message Campaign (Roll Call, March 18, 2010)
  • Obama’s New Health Pitch: Families, Businesses Would Get Benefits This Year (Politics Daily, March 6, 2010)
  • President Obama Seeks to Remake His Agenda as Health Care Divides Democrats (ABC, January 5, 2010)

  • Sights lower in health fight; Democrats retool in final push for a smaller victory (Tribune, September 6, 2009)
  • Under fire, President Obama shifts strategy (Politico, September 3, 2009)
  • Obama seeks to sharpen health plan message (Associated Press, September 2, 2009)
  • The 5 key Strategy Questions the White House is Considering on Health Care (ABC, September 2, 2009)
  • White House Rethinks How It Sells Health Overhaul (Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2009)
  • Health Care Reform Strategy Shift (ABC, August 17, 2009)
  • Obama Retools Health Care Pitch as Ratings Slip (Associated Press, August 11, 2009)
  • Democrats try to get back on message (Politico, August 5, 2009)
  • Obama Trims Sails On Health Reform; He Seeks to Rally Support by Promising Less (Washington Post, August 2, 2009)
  • Democrats work out healthcare deal as Obama retools message (Associated Press, July 29, 2009)
  • Obama shifts to campaign mode on health reform (Examiner, July 17, 2009)
  • Obama shifts into campaign mode on health care (Associated Press, July 16, 2009)
  • Democrats work to shape message on health reform (Union-Leader, May 14, 2009)
  • Democrats to Develop Plan to Sell Health Care (New York Times, May 13, 2009)