Health care remains a top issue for nationally for likely midterm voters at the start of 2018 despite fatigue with it being at the top of headlines for most of 2017, according to a new poll that finds 54 percent of likely midterm voters rank it in the top issues this year.
The poll was conducted by Hart Research Associates, which received a B+ in FiveThirtyEight’s 2016 pollster rankings, and conducted between Jan. 3 and Jan. 7 of this year. It included 1,000 interviewees.
The poll was commissioned by Protect Our Care, a national campaign that opposed last year’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and ran ads in Alaska. Leslie Dach, the director of the campaign, spoke with The Midnight Sun this week about the results.
“In its simplest terms, it’s very clear that health care is a critical issue for Americans in 2018,” he said. “It raises above politics for them because it really is a matter of life or death for many, and a critical economic issue for almost everybody. … People really do want bipartisan solutions and are kind of sick of the partisanship that defines the Washington debate.”
The questions also focus on the lasting impact that the Republican efforts to undo health care has had on the opinions of voters, finding that the efforts have “inflicted lasting reputational damage on Republicans” as 47 percent of voters said they were likely to support a generic Republican incumbent candidate who backed the repeal, while only 38 percent said it was more likely to increase their support.
Overall, Republicans are getting poor marks for their work on health care with 72 percent of the respondents disapproving of how Republicans have handled health care.
Why it matters
Last week, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she opposed reopening the debate on a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act. She, along with Republican Sens. Susan Collins and John McCain, broke from GOP ranks to join Democrats in defeating multiple haphazard attempts to undo the law in 2017.
Dach commended Murkowski for her stance, and said that the polling would suggest that she’s in a strong position to work on much-needed fixes to the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., had pushed for a bipartisan fix for health care, including a law that would allow other states to easily adopt an Alaska program that lowered premiums by more than 20 percent this year, but those efforts have largely been sidelined.
Dach said Murkowski could help get those moderate, bipartisan fixes approved.
“Sen. Murkowski is in a unique place to make a difference here because she really has the ability to end the partisanship in Washington and find ways to move forward,” he said. “Not many senators have that position.”
Health care groups began work on two voter initiatives for the 2018 ballot that would have put key pieces of the Affordable Care Act into state law, but both campaigns were suspended amid uncertainty on the federal level. The owner and publisher of The Midnight Sun, Jim Lottsfeldt, was involved with both campaigns.
From the pollster:
Key Takeaways from Protect Our Care’s January 2018 Poll
New national polling of 1000 likely midterm voters conducted from January 3 to January 7 proves yet again that health care remains the top issue for midterm voters. The Trump Administration’s health care repeal and sabotage campaign has inflicted significant damage on Republican Members of Congress, and the more the party embraces that agenda in 2018, the more likely they are to face a crushing wave of losses.
Health Care is Top Issue for 2018 Midterm Voters: Topping concerns about the economy or taxes by 2-to-1 margins, health care is the #1 voting issue for the midterms.
- Fully 54% choose healthcare as one of the two issues that will be the most important to them in deciding how to vote for Congress – more than any other issue.
- The is the top priority among both Democrats (68%) and independents (54%) and it is especially important to white women voters, whether they are college graduates (62%) or non-college graduates (59%).
Voters Blame Republicans for Health Care Sabotage: After Republicans’ year of efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, voters now blame Trump and his party for problems with health care.
- Today’s poll shows a 10-point increase in the share of voters who see President Trump as trying to make the Affordable Care Act fail.
- When voters hear about problems with the way the Affordable Care Act is working, most (55%) believe the problems are caused by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress trying to sabotage the law and refusing to properly implement it.
Health Care Repeal Has Inflicted Lasting Reputational Damage on Republicans: Republicans’ health care repeal remains overwhelmingly unpopular.
- Voters overwhelmingly oppose the Republican health care repeal bills (35% support, 52% oppose) and opposition has expanded to 17 points (30% support, 47% oppose) with independents.
- Supporting health care repeal makes voters 47% less likely to support a Republican incumbent, while only 38% are more likely to support them.
- Voters prefer a Democrat who will keep the Affordable Care Act and work to improve it by 59% over 41% who want a repeal-and-replace Republican.
Voters no Longer Trust Republicans on Health Care: Voters now trust Democrats on health care over Republicans by 13 points.
- In fact, voters overwhelmingly disapprove of Republicans on health care – with 72% disapproving and only 28% approving.
- Republicans have a long list of severe vulnerabilities that create very major concerns among large majority of voters including: the age tax (67%), weakening protections for pre-existing conditions (63%), allowing insurance companies to stop covering essential health benefits (63%), etc.
Democrats Should Lean In to Health Care As A Winning Political Message in 2018: As the midterms approach, voters’ feelings about Democrats, who dominate the generic ballot in poll after poll, grow even more positive when they talk about health care.
- Today’s poll shows that Democratic candidates increase their electoral advantage when they highlight their support for making improvements to the Affordable Care Act while keeping what works.
- A 2018 Democratic midterm strategy that focuses on the Republican war on health care and GOP repeal efforts will widen Democrats’ margin. When given a choice between a Democrat who wants to keep what works in the ACA versus a Republican who wants to repeal and replace, voters prefer the Democrat by 18 points.