WaPo’s Greg Sargent looks at a report from The Hill about a sudden lapse in congressional Republican agitation about the Affordable Care Act, and considers polls showing that interest in repealing Obamacare is slowly shrinking down towards the conservative “base,” and wonders aloud if the GOP is in some sense “giving up” on the subject. The increase in Republican volume on Benghazi! from 10 to 11 is, I suppose, another data point for that interpretation.

But if you look at the ongoing competitive Republican Senate primaries just past in North Carolina and just ahead in Nebraska and Georgia, there is no diminution in the intense focus on Obamacare, as candidates routinely accuse each other of insufficient fanaticism on the subject. In Nebraska, a major talking point against Ben Sasse is that he got paid by groups supporting the Affordable Care Act for making panel presentations attacking the law.

The Benghazi! fever is an independent phenomenon that has long afflicted the Republican body politic. There is no reason to assume its propagation is incompatible with a return to Obamacare agitation. My guess is that the “lull” in Washington on Obamacare is simply a matter of a relatively brief period in which no fresh news was available to feed that particular beast. But I see very little above or below the radar screen in GOP circles to suggest serious doubts they are “winning” on this issue overall. And even if Republicans harbor private doubts, the ObamacareFail meme is now so integral a part of their worldview that the political equivalent of the death penalty will be instantly imposed on anyone discussing a reconsideration based on the small beer of empirical evidence.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.