No issue has aroused more partisan passion over the past six years than the Affordable Care Act. Yet the law is playing only a secondary role in the U.S. elections.
Sure, Republican presidential candidates cater to their base by vowing to repeal and replace Obamacare, and on the Democratic side, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont promises to replace it with a government-run universal coverage system.
But it doesn't dominate the dialogue and isn't a top priority on either side. Among the most embattled Senate Republican incumbents, the campaign websites of New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte, Mark Kirk of Illinois or Ron Johnson of Wisconsin barely mention the ACA. An exception is Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
The explanation may be that for all its controversy and imperfections, the sweeping law has taken hold. "This is in the fabric of the nation," says Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell.
To be sure, the presidential election outcome will be a determinant of whether Obamacare is reshaped, bolstered or downsized.