Obamacare Isn’t an Automatic Vote Getter

Here are some sophisticated reasons:

The insecurity that Baker describes was real, and some people will realize that the ACA means they no longer have that worry, or at least not to the same extent. Still, there are several barriers to it being a voting issue. For one, people tend to be optimists about their own prospects, and no candidate wants to campaign by telling voters they are more likely to lose their jobs (and their insurance) than they realize. Also, the ACA only provides access, not a seamless guarantee of constant coverage, making it harder for the press (and politicians) to easily describe how it gives people more security.

And then there’s the gap between recognizing a benefit and vote choice. […]

Let’s set aside the psychology of the voter who may or may not acknowledge the importance of Obamacare to their well-being and get to the nub of this issue: the people who benefit from Obamacare the most vote the least, especially in mid-term elections. If Democrats can find some way to magick them to the polls this election, I doubt that there will be a lot of cognitive dissonance in their polling booths. But between voter suppression, the fact that this group lacks transportation to the polls, their tendency to work multiple jobs and to have kids who need child care, this group doesn’t vote as much as, say, Medicare recipients.

(via Kevin Drum)






50 replies
  1. 1
    rikyrah says:

    Consider me one of those who believes the Dems have to be obvious.

    That healthcare that you have?

    You elect him- and he’s vowed to take it away from you.

    They’ve voted FIFTY FUCKING TIMES to take away your healthcare.

    How much more do you need to know.

    They’re denying FIVE MILLION FELLOW AMERICANS access to healthcare because they won’t expand Medicaid.

    Tell me again how it doesn’t matter who you vote for.

    They really do have to be this fucking obvious and beat the voter over the head with a 2×4 about it.

  2. 2

    In the MSM land, and lately even in Tunchland it is always doom and gloom for the Democrats.

  3. 3
    Emerald says:

    Not to mention that Medicare recipients are still voting for the party that wants to privatize their favorite program.

    It’ll take five years for Obamacare to become as entrenched as SS and Medicare (it took five years for those programs to overcome initial skepticism too), and by then, as Obama said, they won’t call it “Obamacare.”

    So yeah, I think we’ll get a little bump from the newly insured, but not nearly enough to overcome the Obama haters in the midterms. 2016 will be a different story.

  4. 4
    burnspbesq says:

    OT, but important, and I don’t feel like waiting for the next open thread:

    The Second Circuit ordered the release of a redacted version of the DOJ memo setting out the legal basis for the al-Awlaki attack.

    I’m not completely convinced by the legal analysis, but I think it’s the right result.

    I expect that DOJ will ask for reconsideration en banc, and if that doesn’t work I expect a petition for cert.

    More info, and a link to the opinion, here.

    http://www.lawfareblog.com/201.....laki-memo/

  5. 5
    Violet says:

    @rikyrah: Yep. Agreed. “You like your healthcare? Who gave you that? Obama and the Democrats. You want to keep it? You better vote for Democrats. Republicans have voted 50 times to take it away from you.”

    Over and over and over again. Fear gets votes. Sorry that that’s the case but it works. Make people scared they’ll lose their healthcare. Make them scared of Republicans. Get them to vote.

  6. 6
    Chris says:

    @Emerald:

    Not to mention that Medicare recipients are still voting for the party that wants to privatize their favorite program.

    As liberals learned during the 20th century, when a service that was once badly lacking becomes firmly embedded in the system, people come to take it for granted, forget all about it as an issue, and find new things to care about.

  7. 7
    Belafon says:

    Things Democrats do that don’t get them significant votes:

    1. Pass Obamacare
    2. End DADT
    3. Support gay marriage
    4. Reduce the deficit

    You know, govern.

  8. 8
    Emerald says:

    @Chris: Yup. Same thing will happen with the ACA.

    However, until the Rs and/or, presumably, the oligarchs, actually manage to privatize SS and Medicare, we can still refute that Princeton study which says we’re already an oligarchy.

    If we were Obama could not have been elected at all, much less twice at over 50% of the vote. When those programs disappear, then we’ll know for sure it’s tumbrel time.

  9. 9
    jl says:

    I read that Dean Baker post yesterday, and I did not come away thinking that ‘oh gosh, if all those benefits got news coverage the Dems will win elections!’ Where in that column did Baker say that?

    If Bernstein thinks that the benefits are subtle enough that new coverage will not make voters realize that they benefit from the law, he should say so and not put words into Baker’s mouth.

    I actually disagree with Baker on this. I think changes in economic conditions that are tangible to voters do not need press coverage because the ordinary ‘lesser’ people perceive them before they show up in the top line statistics. That is why pappy Bush’s attempts to bigshotsplain that thing weren’t as bad as they seemed in the early nineties, were a miserable failure.

    I think Truman’s advice that Democrats have to out and aggressively explain and defend their programs in ordinary language to anyone willing to listen is relevant here.

    It may be that health insurance coverage will not provide enough immediate tangible benefit to midterm voters to save the Senate from two years of disaster. But reading beside-the-point political analysis from Bernstein, that also seem to miss the point, are not helpful.

    I think Bernstein, who as far as I know has a much better reputation in economic policy than political analysis, would have a better use for his time and blog platform.

    Edit: OK, i should have given the Baker piece a second look before I commented. I guess you could say that Baker implied political success from more coverage. Grouch grouch grouch! Both Baker and Bernstein have better things to do with their time, IMHO.

  10. 10
    Gene108 says:

    Watched CSPAN’s call in show this morning. They had a reporter from Kaiser Health News on.

    Lady from Louisiana called. She just got laid off. She went to healthcare.gov and the cheapest plan she found is for $400/mth, which is too much for her right now.

    She ain’t poor enough (yet) to qualify for Medicaid, as Gov. Jindal opted out of Medicaid expansion.

    There are enough coverage gaps caused by the refusal to accept Medicaid expansion and probably other issues, I am missing, that enough people are still SOL that you will not have a ground swell of Democratic support.

    You will have a few of the 8 million Exhange enrollees, who will be locked into voting for Democrats, but it is not going to be enough to have a 2006 and 2010 type wave election.

  11. 11

    “automatic” vote getter is a rather high bar. avoiding the topic/running away from it sure as hell won’t get many votes either.

    let’s just capitulate right now and start hailing aquabuddha.

  12. 12
    Rob in CT says:

    This is why, btw, the constant whining from the Right about the Dems buying votes are such bullshit. They can’t buy votes even if they want to.

  13. 13
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    I wish I could get my Obamacare without the Obama part.

  14. 14

    Interesting, I just read this from the WaPo.

    It’s not a matter of whether you personally benefit from Obamacare as whether you can be shamed into admitting it was a good idea because your alternative is saying yes, let 40,000 people in my state suffer. Even in Tennessee that ain’t playing.

    All the GOP has had are scary memes about death panels and higher costs and everyone being forced to submit to government interference in their healthcare decisions. That hasn’t happened. So, the options being, thousands of people in my state get insurance, and I haven’t even noticed a difference? Republicans have lost the argument and they lost the one issue they were planning to run on.

    THAT is what we’re talking about.

  15. 15
    Mnemosyne says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    In the MSM land, and lately even in Tunchland it is always doom and gloom for the Democrats.

    Well, come on, it’s not like the MSM can permit the Democrats to have a win of any kind. I’ve already heard grumblings that Obama is spiking the ball by making repeated speeches about the success of getting Obamacare up and running. Imagine if he’d paraded on the deck of aircraft carrier in a flight suit with the same message.

  16. 16
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gene108: Landrieu (sp?) and a # of other red state Dems are running on an expansion of Medicaid while avoiding mentioning Obamacare, as it seems to be popular with a lot of GOPs too.

  17. 17
    Gene108 says:

    @Violet:

    75% of people have not been significantly impacted by the ACA. They got insurance through their employers or Medicare.

    They would not lose insurance, if the ACA went away tomorrow.

    The confounding problem with getting the USA towards universal health coverage has been that enough people are OK enough with their access to healthcare that any big change scares them, because they may lose what they have.

    There’s a whole lot of IGMFY mentality going on with regards to healthcare.

  18. 18
    jl says:

    @Mnemosyne: For the GOP boosters and their dupes, Bush’s piece nestled in military webbing is manly and reassuring, whereas…

    Democratic candidates need to ignore the interested advice from what, as far as I am concerned, a corporate media that is nearly an arm of GOP campaign committees and get to spiking that ball, and explaining why they are spiking the ball, and doing so in press hacks’ faces. The link given by Southern Beale above is somewhat encouraging news on that front.

  19. 19
    gratuitous says:

    Gee, if only the Democrats had some vehicle for touting their accomplishments. You know, some way of telling people that it was Democrats who were behind this whole Affordable Care Act thing. But how? How??? It’s just unpossible! Sure, they could send out campaign mailers and mention it on the teevee every now and then, but Republicans would be all “Nuh uh!” and there goes that strategy. David Gregory has sent the word forth that those who deal in the merits will be deemed meritless.

  20. 20
    Gene108 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    But will people make the connection that Medicaid expansion = Democrats, while voting Republican means the working poor can die for all they care?

    Democrats are not running away from the ACA, but they need to drill it into voters heads Republicans do not care, if you die.

  21. 21
    Davis X. Machina says:

    : @Gene108:

    She ain’t poor enough (yet) to qualify for Medicaid, as Gov. Jindal opted out of Medicaid expansion.

    Anybody, you know, point that out to the lady?

  22. 22
    Ronnie Puddingw says:

    @rikyrah:

    Consider me one of those who believes the Dems have to be obvious.

    That healthcare that you have?

    You elect him- and he’s vowed to take it away from you.

    But for how many people is that true? The GOP isn’t trying to take away my health care, as I get it at work. Many people who benefit don’t vote, and many who do vote are already voting Democratic.

    On the other hand, there are many who *would* benefit but for the GOP, and who currently vote GOP. And of course there are those who do not benefit directly, but care about others.

    The flip side is,

  23. 23
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Gene108: Republicans do not care, if you die.

    There is a non-trivial number people of who don’t care if they die.
    So long as they can watch someone who looks different, sounds different, or prays wrong, die first. And maybe they won’t die. Most people in a war don’t die, not even the ones in the service.

    Wars get fought precisely because you can work this scam at the level of a nation.

  24. 24
    Jeremy says:

    @Gene108: I think the same can be said of Medicare. The majority of Americans don’t use it until they become seniors and even when they get to that point, it’s taken for granted. The ACA will become more popular over time, but it won’t buy votes and good policy should not be about buying votes. It’s about helping the country.

    I still say that more Americans are feeling the impact of the laws benefits through mandates and regulations like free preventive services.

  25. 25
    Belafon says:

    @gratuitous: You could send the president out on stops to make speeches, but then the press would just decide it’s not news.

  26. 26
    flukebucket says:

    My understanding is that Michelle Nunn is running away from Obamacare in Georgia. I don’t know why she feels like that will win her one vote. Female Democrat? In Georgia the only thing worse would be a Black Female Democrat. None of these good ‘ol boys are going to vote for a woman. No way in hell.

  27. 27
    jl says:

    @Jeremy:

    ” The ACA will become more popular over time, but it won’t buy votes and good policy should not be about buying votes. ”

    But the Dems telling the truth (and the GOP thinking it is Hell) would involve spiking the ball, explaining why they are spiking the ball, and explaining that the GOP wants to kill the program and replace it with a ‘pay more to die more’ policy for ordinary people. That isn’t buying votes.

    If the Democrats want to buy elections, they should do it with whiskey, rum punch, brandy, wine, hard cider and beer, like George Washington did: the all-American Founding Founders’ way.

  28. 28
    jonas says:

    Here’s the fundamental problem: people hate Obamacare, that socialist scheme with the shitty website set up by the Kenyan usurper to take away your doctor and make your get gay abortions paid for with the tears of poor Nevada cattle ranchers. On the other hand, they luv that great health insurance program in their state they recently signed up for using an efficient website where they get a subsidy for the premiums and choose their own doctors and they can’t be turned down for that pre-existing condition they have. What a great idea! If only that incompetent Obama had thought of something like this.

    As far as I can tell, the Democratic Party has no real plan to address this and tie Republican candidates to their stated policy of destroying the health insurance reform program that has proven remarkably popular.

  29. 29
    jl says:

    @jonas:

    and tie Republican candidates to their stated policy of destroying the health insurance reform program that has proven remarkably popular, that is, their lying

  30. 30
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @jl:

    explaining that the GOP wants to kill the program and replace it with a ‘pay more to die more’ policy for ordinary people.

    Nobody will believe it.

    You can’t go up to the average voter in this country and tell them a century-old, major American political party is perfectly willing to sacrifice people in this country to achieve its highly ideological — and highly profitable — goals. It’s too far-fetched.

    “They’re just saying that.” Or “Other people say differently.” Or “They don’t actually mean that.” Or something like, is what they’ll tell you. The ones that don’t say “Good. Screw ’em.” that is.

  31. 31
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    the people who benefit from voting the most vote the least, especially in mid-term elections

    FTFY, you’re very welcome.

    You’re not going to see any progressive politics in this country until that inconvenient truth changes. We gotta get the non voters voting. It will be an uphill climb.

    A reason (at least here in CA): Voting (not getting a driver’s license) gets you put into the pool of people that get called for jury duty. If you’re poor, you can’t afford to get called for jury duty. Poverty is no excuse for avoiding jury duty. Result: the poor correctly decide it ain’t worth the hassle and don’t register.

    If CA is throwing up these subtle yet effective blocks to voting, you gotta wonder how bad it is in states where disenfranchising as many of the potential voters as possible is “the way we do things here, boy.”

  32. 32
    Betty Cracker says:

    In a fine speech earlier this year, Obama called income inequality the greatest challenge of our time and cast the wealth disparity as a failure to honor actual work and denial of opportunity to hardworking people. He’s hit those themes over and over, and I wish he and every single Democrat would crank up the volume on that to 11 and rip off the knob.

    I’m glad millions more people have access to coverage through the ACA, but I also see one of its greatest achievements as a historically large transfer of wealth from the top down through Medicaid expansion. That’s why red state governors don’t support it, and that’s why the Roberts Court made that portion optional.

    Whether or not people personally benefit from Obamacare, the majority DO realize that those at the top are making out like bandits while the middle class suffers and the working poor are totally screwed. To the extent the ACA mitigates that, even a little bit, it should be a winning issue.

  33. 33
    Heliopause says:

    But between voter suppression, the fact that this group lacks transportation to the polls, their tendency to work multiple jobs and to have kids who need child care, this group doesn’t vote as much as, say, Medicare recipients.

    I’m afraid this is just a horseshit excuse.

    Despite the spate of voter ID laws the recent trend has been to make voting easier. Most states have some combination of early, extended, absentee, and mail-in voting. In spite of all these reforms the non-participation rate, while improved, has remained stubbornly high. Polling finds that most of those who vote infrequently or not at all are simply disaffected from the process.

    In 2010, before the voter suppression movement had gained much steam, something like 130 million eligible voters did not vote. This wasn’t for the silly excuses you list above, it was because of a catastrophic failure of liberals and/or Democrats to convince tens of millions of their fellow citizens that it was worth their while to vote.

    Until the excuse-making comes to an end and there is a basic recognition of the problem, the problem will persist.

  34. 34
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Heliopause: That’s not what they told the Census. (Link to Excel spreadsheet…) ‘Didn’t like candidates/campaign issues’ and ‘not interested’, together, don’t add up — barely — to a third of the responses.

  35. 35
    VFX Lurker says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    A reason (at least here in CA): Voting (not getting a driver’s license) gets you put into the pool of people that get called for jury duty.

    I disagree with this statement. I live in California. My dear husband is not registered to vote, because he is a permanent resident. However, he keeps jury duty summons, because he registered for his driver’s license. I say a driver’s license (or an ID card) gets you into the pool of people called for jury duty.

    PS — although he keeps getting a summons, the phone system rejects him for jury duty as soon as he reveals that he is not an American citizen.

  36. 36
    Roger Moore says:

    @Chris:

    As liberals learned during the 20th century, when a service that was once badly lacking becomes firmly embedded in the system, people come to take it for granted, forget all about it as an issue, and find new things to care about.

    And they forget about it to the point that they often don’t see the problem with somebody destroying the system that provides them with the benefits. People are so used to depending on clean drinking water and safe food, that they don’t appreciate that those things are the result of government regulation and that attempts to undermine the EPA and FDA will predictably result in pollution and unsafe food.

  37. 37
    hoodie says:

    @Gene108: Yeah, but 25% is a pretty good chunk of the population that, if you can get at least some of them out, they could swing several races. There’s nothing wrong with using fear if it’s the truth. The GOP has voted 50 times to: (1) repeal the requirement that you can’t be denied for pre-existing conditions; (2) repeal the requirement that there be no lifetime caps; (3) repeal the requirement that children up to 26 can be carried on parents’ coverage, etc. That’s why I don’t quite get why the GOP did that, because it gives the Dems great fodder for TV ads (“Congressman X voted 50 times to deny you health insurance coverage for a pre-existing condition, for your lovely 23-year old daughter who can’t find a job, . . .”). Honestly, it could be an opportunity for something along the lines of LBJ’s Daisy ads that painted Goldwater as an ideological kook.

  38. 38
    VFX Lurker says:

    @VFX Lurker:

    …I meant to write “he keeps getting jury duty summons” instead of “he keeps jury duty summons” … but my point was that jury duty summons in California seem to get pulled from something other than voter registration.

  39. 39
    WaterGirl says:

    @Gene108: Are you forgetting about all the people who now cannot be refused insurance because of pre-existing conditions?

    Are you forgetting about all the people who no longer have lifetime caps on their policies?

    Are you forgetting about all the kids who are less than 26 who are on their parents insurance?

  40. 40
    Cacti says:

    Kevin Drum and Mistermix say we’re doomed.

    That’s it everyone. Pack it up and go home.

  41. 41
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Gene108: I’ve been laid off more than once in my career, and the simple fact that if that ever happens again, there is likely a much cheaper alternative than COBRA is really attractive.

  42. 42
    Roger Moore says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    A reason (at least here in CA): Voting (not getting a driver’s license) gets you put into the pool of people that get called for jury duty.

    Incorrect, or at least only partially correct. The courts scan both DMV records and voting rolls to find prospective jurors. That’s why they have spaces on the jury duty form for you to say you aren’t eligible to serve because you’re not a citizen. An unfortunate side effect is that if you register to vote and get your driver’s license under slightly different names (e.g. middle initial on one and middle name on the other) you can wind up in the system twice and have an increased chance of being called. That’s also a reason why you may get called twice within 12 months, even though the system ought to be able to screen that kind of thing out.

  43. 43
    Fair Economist says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    You can’t go up to the average voter in this country and tell them a century-old, major American political party is perfectly willing to sacrifice people in this country to achieve its highly ideological — and highly profitable — goals. It’s too far-fetched.

    The Republicans do it all the time, and it works for them. It’ll work better for us, especially since what’s we’ll be saying is actually true.

  44. 44
    danimal says:

    @rikyrah: Yep. Make the GOPers explain. Put ’em on the defensive. They voted over 50 TIMES to take away health care from MILLIONS of Americans. 50 TIMES!! They don’t want you to have guaranteed insurance. They don’t want your young adult child to stay on your policy. They don’t want to save lives and protect good people from medical bankruptcy. They voted to take it away 50 TIMES!!! What ghouls!

  45. 45
    jl says:

    @Fair Economist: thanks. I was going to make the same response. I remember the political party I have belonged to the vast majority of my adult life being called traitorous scum, who want to kill the rich, take hard working white people’s money and daughters and give them to hobos and savages, on a regular basis.

    Beating on those lies like a rug has worked for years. Why won’t it work with the truth?

  46. 46
    hildebrand says:

    Here is another story about people blaming Obama for their lack of insurance, even though it is the state’s fault for not expanding medicare.

    Of course, in this particular case, I have no idea how someone who is only making $8000 a year is not eligible for the subsidy, that seems exceptionally odd.

  47. 47
    Gene108 says:

    @WaterGirl:

    No, but as sweeping as the ACA has been, it was designed to be minimally disruptive to most people’s current insurance situation.

    Therefore the number of people the ACA will drive to vote for Democrats will not result in a wave election in 2014 or 2016, as most people have not noticed much of a difference.

    In short, Democrats will pick up some votes because some folks notice what is going on, but it will not be enough to have a wave election or get Republicans in trouble for voting to repeal it 50 times.

    I really was hoping there would be Dem ads that said my opponent voted to repeal Obamacare 50 times and leave the Rep scrambling for answers, but the ACA has not had that kind of impact on the minds of voters.

  48. 48
    mclaren says:

    @Gene108:

    75% of people have not been significantly impacted by the ACA. They got insurance through their employers or Medicare.

    Shorter Gene108:

    Only poor people are helped by most Democratic policies, and poor people don’t vote.

    We are so fucked.

    So totally, completely, absolutely fucked.

  49. 49
    Mnemosyne says:

    @hildebrand:

    Of course, in this particular case, I have no idea how someone who is only making $8000 a year is not eligible for the subsidy, that seems exceptionally odd.

    People making 125% or less of the poverty line (which is currently around $11,000 a year) were supposed to be covered by the Medicaid expansion — only people who make more than 125% of the poverty rate are eligible for subsidies. IOW, the Supreme Court created a donut hole where there was supposed to be coverage.

    And if it seems wrong that someone who makes $8,000 a year isn’t eligible for Medicaid, well, welcome to Texas. If you’re over 18 and don’t have a documented disability, you’re SOL when it comes to Medicaid.

  50. 50
    hildebrand says:

    @Mnemosyne: God, that just boggles the mind. How mean-spirited do you have to be to deny someone like that proper insurance? I know that many Republicans are cold, but that seems beyond the pale. How do people like that sleep at night, or look at themselves in the mirror.

    I really do detest such smug bastards who are so certain that they are right, and who are so quick to stomp on those not exactly like them.

    Bah.

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