There is one issue that is a clear winner for the Democrats as we head into the midterms. Healthcare. Here’s why and how we can use this knowledge to fuel the wins we need on November 6.
Yes, healthcare has emerged as the top issue for many voters, and not just the voters who lean Democratic. This may be hard to believe considering attacking healthcare, and specifically Obamacare, was such a key part of the Republican strategy for years.
But here we are. The attacks started immediately after President Obama started to work on the healthcare law, (which, let’s not forget, is formally titled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), and rose to a fever pitch once he signed it into law in early 2010. Many point to the law as one of two key issues that swept so many Republicans, and especially the ultra-right Tea Partiers, into Congress in the 2010 midterm election. (The stimulus package after the financial meltdown of 2008 was the other.)
The GOP has been relentless in their attacks on the law. They’ve taken multiple votes on legislation that went nowhere, they’ve sued and had cases get to the Supreme Court, they’ve chipped away at it at the state level–any way they could attack it, they did. But they never had control of the House, the Senate, and the Presidency at the same time. Until last year.
As soon as they controlled all three, they put together legislation to repeal the law. Repealing the law was no longer a pipe dream, but a reality. But the massive fight that ensued over healthcare (which we all have battle scars from) had one remarkable effect: Americans woke up and realized that the very law that had been demonized for nearly a decade was not something they wanted to lose.
Just look at what happened to the approval ratings for the healthcare law. For most of its existence, the law has been more unfavorable (see the red line is almost always on top). But right around January 2017, when Trump became president and the Republican-controlled Congress started in earnest to repeal the law, the ratings flipped, and the favorable (blue) line jumped above the unfavorable line and has remained there by quite the margin:
What we’ve learned is that a lot of Americans didn’t realize that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act was the same law. (Seriously, just check out these statistics.) Many had no idea that their private insurance could be affected by the ACA’s repeal. And a majority of Americans suddenly understood how important it was to keep the protections for pre-existing conditions.
Now that voter sentiment has changed, Republicans are in a tough spot. Suddenly GOP candidates are hoping voters forget their years of attacks and numerous votes taken to dismantle the healthcare law. Just look at this: Suddenly, Vulnerable House Republicans No Longer Bash Obamacare on Their Websites
Not only are these vulnerable Republicans scrubbing their websites and talking points of their previous healthcare positions, some of them are even campaigning as though they’re going to save their constituents’ healthcare! To take one example, here’s Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA 48) who is in a fierce fight with Democrat Harley Rouda:
But… Rohrabacher has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act NINE times!
Rohrabacher is not alone. The Affordable Care Act is so popular now that many Republicans are changing their tune, and even Trump has tweeted that he’s the biggest supporter of protections for pre-existing conditions. (He’s not. At all.) For Pete’s sake, some Republicans, like Rick Scott who is running for the Florida Senate seat, have made absurd declarations like Democrats want to “end” Medicare. I mean, come on. They’re all liars, and hoping their voters don’t know any better.
This is where our efforts will be crucial in the coming days.
Our mission in these last days before Election Day: Don’t let the Republicans get away with it. Stay on top of these politicians — every time they tweet or say that they’re a champion of healthcare, remind people of the votes they’ve taken.
✦ Here’s where you can check to see if a Republican has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
✦ Be sure to point out that your Democratic candidate is committed to protecting pre-existing conditions and everyone’s healthcare.
✦ Let people know the hypocrisy of these Republicans who voted multiple time to repeal the ACA but now are pretending they’re a champion of healthcare.
✦ Point to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s statements–just last week!–saying he wants to try to repeal the healthcare law again and also make cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
✦ If you see a Republican politician say they’ve supported legislation that protects pre-existing conditions, throw this fact-check by PolitiFact at them.
✦ Consider sharing this excellent editorial cartoon by Mike Luckovich:
Again, driving home the message that Republicans constantly attack healthcare, and the Democrats are the ones who have enacted and then protected that legislation is a winning argument in these final days of the midterm election season. Every single person knows someone who has gotten sick. That makes healthcare extremely personal, where other important issues like taxes and climate change just don’t have the same emotional power.
Talk about healthcare every day. It is the winning issue.