Seven weeks into the troubled rollout of the health-care law's exchanges -- a broken website, lower-than-expected enrollment, President Obama's poll numbers at all-time lows, Democrats in a state of panic -- the natural instinct is to assume those storylines will continue.
But what if the worm has already turned, ever so slightly, when it comes to the website and enrollment?
As New York magazine's Jonathan Chait puts it, one of the most common fallacies in political journalism -- and in the human brain -- is to assume that what's happening now will continue to occur.
Buried inside another tough New York Times story on the federal website is this news: 50,000 Americans have now selected insurance plans, which is up from 27,000 for October. So the number has doubled in two weeks.
(The White House won’t confirm those numbers to First Read, saying it will release only monthly data.)
On Monday, the administration said the federal website is “comfortably” servicing 20,000 to 25,000 users simultaneously. (But those numbers need to be higher to meet what’s expected to be higher demand come December.)
On Tuesday, it said it had completed fixes to two-thirds of its “high priority bugs.”
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times says California, which is administering its own state-based exchanges with a well-functioning website, has nearly doubled its 31,000 number from last month -- in just the first two weeks of November.
And the paper also says that Connecticut, Kentucky, and Minnesota are also exceeding earlier expectations.
This isn't to say that other problems with the federal website won’t surface in the coming weeks and days. Indeed, Politico and Buzzfeed report that an administration official testified Tuesday on Capitol Hill that the payment and accounting portion of the website still needed to be completed (although the administration says those portions don’t need to be operational until 2014).
And it isn't to say that the administration will meet its target in insuring up to seven million Americans by March 31 -- including a sizable portion of young, healthy adults to make the system work.
But it is to say that people's -- and the political media's -- impression of the website and enrollment could be a bit dated.
What was true two or three weeks ago might not be true anymore.
NBC’s Taylor Hiegel contributed to this article.
First published November 19 2013, 12:23 PM