Opinion: Health Care Is Driving Voters to the Polls
By Juanita Tolliver
Repeat after me: Health care is the top issue that will drive voter turnout in November.
Health care is the be-all, end-all issue of this midterm election cycle because it unifies voters across backgrounds, political ideologies and demographics.
Whether it is hikes in health care premiums or unexpected medical bills, the threats to the Affordable Care Act’s protections for more than 130 million Americans living with preexisting conditions, or the astronomical costs of medical prescriptions, voters will mobilize next month because their lives are at stake.
In a recent poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 71 percent of voters said that health care is “very important” in deciding who they’ll send to Congress, and the largest share of voters chose health care as the “most important” issue in their voting decision for Congress this year.
It’s clear that Americans are going to the polls to vote on health care and this election cycle they’re looking to candidates for solutions to what many consider to be a broken health care system. Of course, players on the Left and the Right are responding to voters’ focus on health care — albeit in vastly different ways.
Democrats Double Down on Health Care
With health care front and center for voters, Democrats have been redefining the concept of “message discipline,” constantly referencing health care and preexisting conditions in countless ads, debates, interviews and stump speeches.
They’re amplifying the voices of everyday Americans who are sharing stories about how the Affordable Care Act saved their lives; they’re highlighting how President Trump and congressional Republicans have fought to undermine Americans’ access to care; and they’re presenting new policy approaches to ensure that Americans can receive quality, affordable health care.
Democratic challengers like Antonio Delgado in New York and Lauren Underwood in Illinois have engaged locals in ongoing conversations about health care and their needs throughout the cycle, and even emphasized their personal ties to the issue.
Democrats are using every megaphone available to beat the health care drum and they’re directly responding to the priorities of a large swath of voters who define health care as the top issue that will get them to the polls in November.
Republicans Edit their Script on Health Care
Republicans, on the other hand, are taking a “who said that” approach and making every effort to distance themselves from both the nine votes they took to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the GOP-led House of Representatives, and their support of Texas v. United States — a lawsuit brought by Republican attorneys general and supported by Trump that would invalidate the Affordable Care Act, and strike down key protections for Americans living with pre-existing conditions.
They’re deleting repeal language from their websites, changing their tone in ads, and moving as far away from their voting records on repeal as possible.
But while congressional Republicans are actively trying to sidestep their repeal efforts, Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell apparently didn’t get the message as Trump put forward a new rule this week that would allow states to undermine key protections under the Affordable Care Act, and McConnell announced plans to revisit repeal efforts if Republicans maintain control of both chambers of Congress after November.
Health Care Is on the Ballot
Voters across the country see this posturing by the top leaders of the Republican Party.
And let’s not forget, health care is not a partisan issue. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation poll, “health care costs unite voters nationally and in the bellwether states, with voters offering costs as the top health care issue this election.”
In the last days of this midterm cycle, voters are going to replay in their minds all the times congressional Republicans tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act and take away their health care. They’re going to relive the pain and surprise of unexpected medical bills and expensive prescriptions that their children need. And they’re going to take this with them as they go to the polls en masse next month, because their lives literally depend on it.
Opinion: For Independents, It’s About the Direction of the Country
By Carrie Lukas
Partisan voters’ minds have long been made up. Both parties’ bases will vote their ticket regardless of any particular issue. Yet independents and those without a strong allegiance to a party will decide whom to support for Congress based on how they feel about the direction of the country, and what the parties promise on a host of issues.
The Economy. Republicans have a strong case to make that Americans are better off now and that the economy is in better shape today than it has been in decades. The tax cuts and efforts to cut unnecessary red tape have fueled a surge in job creation, a rising stock market and rising wages. One million fewer Americans are living below the poverty line than in 2016. Millions more have jobs, including 600,000 African-Americans and 500,000 Hispanic-Americans. Unemployment is at historic lows.
Democrats have an uphill battle to convince voters that a takeover in Congress won’t undermine this clear progress.
Health Care. Democrats are trying to convince voters that Republicans will undo current protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Yet Republicans have consistently voted to extend requirements to ensure people with costly conditions have access to insurance. The question is how best to do that.
The regulations imposed through the Affordable Care Act dramatically increased costs and pushed insurance providers out of the marketplace, leaving everyone with fewer options. Republicans want a different approach to bring more providers into the market and prices down, while focusing aid on those who really need it.
Many voters recognize that the Affordable Care Act created more problems than it solved, but are disappointed Republicans haven’t built consensus on a better direction. Republicans need to show voters that they have a plan to give people more and better choices, while protecting the vulnerable.
Immigration and the Law. Caravans of illegal immigrants seeking to cross our borders are making border control and immigration central issues again. Even most voters who support allowing more people to enter our country recognize the need for basic border control. They know it isn’t fair or healthy to allow millions of people from just one country or region entrance, while blocking people from Asia and Africa, where conditions are just as challenging.
America already welcomes around 1 million immigrants each year. More than 13 percent of our population — about one in eight people in the United States — are immigrants. America has more immigrants — a lot more — than any other country. Other nations have far less compassionate immigration systems: Canada, for example, prioritizes entry for highly educated immigrants while discriminating against single men.
While we want compassion for those who seek a better life in America, we also need a real border and rules for who gains entry. That’s fair to the millions of people around the world who wish to come to America and, more important, to everyone — citizen and immigrant — who already lives here.
Civility. Even many who lean Republican are concerned that the president, with his tweeting and habit of name calling, is making our already coarse culture even more hostile. Yet the recent behavior of Democratic activists and leaders stoking uncivil violence and mob tactics may encourage independents to decide that Democrats are even less suited for improving our political environment.
Most Americans of both parties see hounding elected and administrative officials out of restaurants and other public spaces as entirely inappropriate. Physical attacks on members of Congress should be unequivocally and strongly condemned. Protests should be peaceful, and not descend into violence like we’ve seen on too many college campuses, when conservatives dare to speak. Too many Democrats — from Hillary Clinton to Sen. Corey Booker to Rep. Maxine Waters to Eric Holder — seem to be stoking people’s worst instincts.
This was especially apparent during Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, during which many Democrats and liberal media outlets abandoned any pretense of fairness and seemed to relish publicizing even far-fetched and baseless allegations against him. Everyone wants allegations of sexual misconduct taken seriously. But we also believe in the presumption of innocence and a fair process.
Democrats’ any-means-necessary mentality disturbed many, and was fundamentally at odds with how nominees in other administrations have been treated.
As with the 2016 election, many independents likely feel like they face an imperfect choice. Yet with the economy growing, and Democrats promising incivility and an abandonment of the rule of law, many may decide the status quo is better than this kind of blue wave.
Juanita Tolliver is the campaign director for the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Carrie Lukas is president of the Independent Women’s Forum. They wrote this for InsideSources.com.