11.14.19 / Updates

Sabato: ‘Medicare For All A Vote Loser’

WASHINGTON – new report out today from the University of Virginia’s Sabato’s Crystal Ball finds that “the performance of 2018 Democratic House candidates shows that those who supported Medicare for All performed worse than those who did not,” and warns that “presidential candidates would do well to take heed of these results.” 

An analysis of the impact of Medicare for All on the 2018 House elections indicates that Democratic challengers and open seat candidates in competitive districts who endorsed a version of Medicare for All similar to that proposed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren did significantly worse than those who did not. This negative effect, close to five points of margin after controlling for a variety of other factors, was clearly large enough to affect the outcomes of some House contests.

The report comes after a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Cook Political Report finds that nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of swing voters in the key states of Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin rate Medicare for All as a “bad idea.”  In fact, The Wall Street Journal reports this week that in Michigan, “supporters of a single-payer health care system are finding a tough audience.”

Union members in this labor stronghold state have expressed unease with Medicare for All, fearing they would lose health benefits that were hard-won over years of negotiations A survey of 600 likely voters commissioned by the Detroit Regional Chamber this summer found that a majority opposed a Medicare for All proposal that would eliminate private health insurance, as proposed by Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders … Michigan illustrates the risk Democrats face in swing states.  The policy appeals to Democrats’ liberal base but is less popular with moderates, polls show.

Previous reporting has also made clear the political risks of embracing a one-size-fits-all system:

  • The Washington Post reports that “Democrats in swing districts are increasingly worried that the outspoken embrace of Medicare-for-all by Bernie Sanders and other top Democratic presidential hopefuls could hurt their chances of keeping the House in 2020.”
  • The Hill reports that “[c]entrist Democrats who helped their party win back the House majority with victories in key swing districts last fall are sounding the alarm that the liberal push for ‘Medicare for all’ could haunt them as they try to defend their seats and keep control of the House.”
  • “[A] majority of those [Democratic Members] who flipped their seats from red to blue focused on strengthening the 2010 health care law and protecting coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions,” Roll Call reports, noting the significant “risks for any politician that proposes dramatic change and uncertainty in a system that is central to Americans’ well-being.”
  • “None of the people that were able to win in tough districts in 2018 ran on Medicare-for-all, and the reason is that they can’t,” Matt Bennett of the centrist Democratic group Third Way explains to CNN.  “People in those districts don’t support it.”
  • As one Democratic strategist put it to The New York Times: “Most of the freshmen who helped take back the House got elected on: ‘We’re going to protect your health insurance even if you have a pre-existing condition,’ not ‘We’re going to take this whole system and throw it out the window.’”
  • The Washington Post reports that by “veer[ing] left,” Democratic presidential hopefuls are “leaving behind [the party’s] successful midterm strategy.”
  • And The New York Times reports that some Democratic governors are “anxious” and “alarmed that their party’s presidential candidates are embracing policies they see as unrealistic and politically risky.  And they are especially concerned about proposals that would eliminate private health insurance … Noting that many voters were already uneasy about losing their coverage, [Michigan Governor Gretchen] Whitmer said, ‘I don’t think feeding into that is a good idea.’”

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