The kind of ad we were supposed to see more of

THE KIND OF AD WE WERE SUPPOSED TO SEE MORE OF…. The Affordable Care Act doesn’t poll especially well, at least in the general sense. When pollsters ask the public what they think of the health care reform package signed by President Obama, the law fares poorly.

The specific provisions of the ACA, however, poll very well. We just hear a lot less about these elements because Democrats are afraid to bring up the subject. Dem candidates who might be inclined to remind voters, for example, that they delivered new protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, end up saying nothing. To point to popular reform measures would be to bring up an unpopular law.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) just isn’t like most Dems, and as statewide candidates go, he’s an incumbent with the courage to buck larger trends. In his new ad, released yesterday, Feingold not only touts his successful efforts on health care reform, he also goes after his opponent, right-wing businessman Ron Johnson (R), for supporting repeal.

One of the people featured in the spot explains, “Russ fought insurance companies to stop insurance companies from denying Wisconsin children health care due to pre-existing conditions.” Viewers are also told, “Mr. Johnson would put insurance companies back in control…. Letting them raise premiums and increase our costs whenever they want.”

Substantively, that’s entirely true. Politically, most Dems just aren’t willing to even try to make this case.

Back in March, there seemed to be a plan on the table, waiting for Democrats willing to run with it: go on the offensive against Republicans talking about repeal. Does the GOP really want to raise taxes on small businesses? Do they really want to reject protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions? Do they really want to take coverage away from 30 million middle-class Americans?

Those questions, we now know, aren’t part of the discourse, because Dems are running away from their milestone accomplishment.

That is, most Dems are. Feingold is not.

Recent polls show Wisconsin rallying behind Johnson, despite his far-right ideology, confusion, hypocrisy, and controversial background. With a month to go, Feingold is taking a risk, doing what no other Democratic Senate candidate is willing to do.

Will the gamble pay off? We’ll find out in 31 days.