The Republican Party missed a tremendous opportunity to make a lot of political hay if they would have just sat back and let the Affordable Care Act wither and die on the vine. As they had hoped, a tiny fraction of the hoped-for millions have signed up for insurance under President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, highlighting the scale of problems bedeviling Obama’s biggest domestic policy achievement.

While the low figure of 106,000 enrollments was expected because of website technical failures, they showed how far the White House has to go to build a new individual market of millions of consumers in 2014 to keep the health care program financially viable.

Obama’s fellow Democrats are demanding that the White House swiftly help people whose existing insurance policies have been canceled because of higher standards under the health care law and to fix the program’s broken website by the end of the month.

House Democrats are concerned that the botched rollout could become a political liability for the party during the 2014 mid-term elections. On Thursday, White House officials will meet with Democratic senators, who also want the White House to regain the upper hand on the policy.

The President had repeatedly promised that Americans who liked their health insurance could keep it when the law took effect on October 1, but several million people have received cancellation notices.

Fewer than 27,000 people signed up for private health insurance plans through the federal marketplace in October, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said. About 79,391 signed up through state-based exchanges.

One positive figure came from California, which embraced the health care reform policy early on and is considered one of the most crucial states for the enrollment effort. The state-run marketplace reported that it has seen more than 59,000 individuals select health insurance plans from October 1 through Tuesday.

The pace of sign-ups has picked up in California in November — 29,000 have selected plans this month, already nearing the total of 30,830 reported in October. But remember that California also leads the nation in uninsured people with no prior health care coverage.

The national enrollment figure for private plans amounts to 1.5 percent of a forecast 7 million people who were expected to sign up by the time enrollment wraps up at the end of March.  The Obama administration had said it expected a trickle of enrollments in October because of the error-ridden HealthCare.gov website used for signing people up in 36 states. The government said 396,261 people were deemed eligible for the government’s Medicaid program or the Children’s Health Insurance Program for the poor.

Obama’s approval rating was at 40.5 percent on Wednesday, while 52 percent of Americans disapproved of the job he is doing which is unchanged from Oct. 1.

It has become clear, however, that the debacle has damaged Americans’ confidence that either political party has a better plan on health care.  Only 31 percent of Americans favored Democrats on health care, while just 17.4 percent now see Republicans as better on health care.

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