There was zero chance that the House didn’t flip in 2010, with ACA or not.
There’s a common idea that political parties, when they win elections, tend to “overreach” and then have a hard time in subsequent elections. I maintain that “overreach” is a myth, and that what you see is a predictable pattern of:
- Party wins election on an agenda
- Party tries to implement agenda
- Fickle voters decide the grass is greener
- The next election includes some type of change to the status quo
The idea that if political parties sat around with their thumbs up their butts that they would win more elections is simply false. You didn’t directly ask the question of whether the ACA constituted overreach, but I think it’s a point worth making.
Now, as to whether the Dems should have picked their poison before taking losses in the 2010 election, with the choices being: 1) ACA and the stimulus bill, or 2) no ACA, no stimulus, but immigration reform, gun control, three more SCOTUS seats, etc? Well, I think a lot of things on option 2 are in fantasyland (three seats, how? keep majorities, how?) so I have to say that even in hindsight, the ACA part of the deal worked out fairly well.
Of course, had Senator Kennedy not died and taken away the 60-seat majority in the Senate, the ACA itself probably could have been improved before it was passed.