A busy screen is shown on the laptop of a Certified Application Counselor as he attempted to enroll an interested person for Affordable Care Act insurance in Miami


Three months before the mid-term elections, political operatives and activists are groping for an anti-Obamacare message that sticks — or 57 of them.

Republican pollsters tested nearly five dozen criticisms of the health care law with likely voters and listed the most effective messages to combat the law, as well as the ones that resonated best with target groups like seniors, tea partiers or independents.

“Not all ways of attacking Obamacare are equally effective,” pollsters Whit Ayres and Dave Sackett noted in a memo prepared for Crossroads GPS and American Action Network and shared with POLITICO.

Some of the arguments that voters found most “persuasive” — that scads of people would be forced off of their health plans and into more expensive coverage, that Obamacare is a Washington takeover of health care and that it’s driving premiums through the roof and forcing businesses to cut worker hours — are contested by Democrats and murky at best. In fact, most Americans report that they‘ve had no direct experience with the law, according to a July tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

That poll underscores the fact that the rhetorical debate over Obamacare is often disconnected from the reality of its impact. Kaiser also found that most Americans remain ignorant about basic practicalities of the law. More than six in 10 reported not knowing that people buying coverage on Obamacare exchanges have a choice of private plans.

However, 53 percent of respondents said they had seen an ad related to the Affordable Care Act in the past 30 days, and ads were more likely to be negative than positive.

“Our candidates are not fearful of these attacks,” said Stan Greenberg, a Democrat-aligned pollster. When he reads messages like the ones touted by the American Action Network to focus groups in battleground states, Greenberg said, “People roll their eyes.”

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