Get ready for the Obamacare fight in 2014
Six. That's the number of people who managed to sign up for Obamacare on day one (for reference, the White House needs 39,000 enrollments a day to reach their goal of 7 million enrolled by March 31). Six also happens to be the number of Senate seats Republicans need to pick up in order to take back control of the upper chamber next November. For Republicans, it is becoming increasingly clear that the path to getting there will be by shining a spotlight on the unpopular and (so far) unsuccessful Obamacare.
The results from this year's election foreshadow the driving issue for the 2014 mid-term election: It won't be Benghazi, the NSA, gun-control or immigration — it will be Obamacare.
True, the Supreme Court upheld the law in the summer of 2012. President Obama won re-election a year ago. And a majority of Americans told pollsters they opposed the GOP tactic of shutting down the government to defund Obamacare last month. Each of these events weakened the anti-Obamacare argument and a smooth and successful rollout on Oct. 1 would likely have put the Obamacare fight to bed. That didn't happen.
To the dismay of Democrats however, it was anything but smooth and successful. And while coverage of the shutdown temporarily masked the failure to launch, the aftermath of the disastrous rollout of the Healthcare.gov website and the concurrent cancellation of millions of insurance policies have thrust the law back into the spotlight. It has created uncertainty and fear in the minds of voters, who could very well punish the president and Democrats by giving the Senate back to Republicans in 12 months (as well as hold their majority in the house and maintain the number of governor seats the party holds).
Take Tuesday's Virginia gubernatorial race, which was much closer than expected. Having seen his party outspent nearly four-to-one in the last six weeks of the campaign, Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli should have been crushed election night. But, he lost by just 55,000 votes, and Obamacare proved to help the attorney general close the gap, despite his lack of resources.
Upon review of Tuesday's exit-poll data from the both Virginia and New Jersey, Democrats should have cause for serious concern about the weight of Obamacare on the 2014 election. Between the two states, 47 percent of voters said they support Obamacare — among those voters, the Democratic candidate had a 57-point edge; however, 52 percent of voters said they oppose the law — and among those voters, the Republican had a 71-point advantage.
(Read more: Look at who's the real winner of Tuesday's elections)
Now consider this: According to the Real Clear Politics (RCP) average of public support for the health-care law, current support for the law is at 42 percent, while 51 percent oppose it — and this is not simply a snapshot in time — in four years the law has never once had plurality support in the RCP average.
The unpopularity of the law has led more than a few Democrats to do their best to run away from it, asking the White House for extensions, delays and waivers in the implementation. Even Democrats in races that are not currently competitive are running from the law. In New Hampshire, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen leads each of her potential Republican challengers by double digits. Shaheen has insisted the White House extend the enrollment deadline and waive the penalty for those who don't enroll and has been joined by six of her Senate Democrats colleagues up for re-election next year.
The blueprint for Republican success next November centers on tying the law to the Democratic candidate. Democrats realize this and in many cases are running from the law as fast as they can. The question is, can they run fast enough?
— By Sara Fagen
Sara Fagen is CNBC contributor and the former White House political director for President George W. Bush. Follow her on twitter at