TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Priorities USA
Senate Majority PAC
Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group
Global Strategy Group
DATE: June 30, 2017
RE:Republican Health Care Bill Deeply Unpopular in Senate Battlegrounds, Putting Senate Democrats in Strong Position
Though next year’s midterm elections will force Democrats to defend many more Senate seats than Republicans—including 10 seats in states that Donald Trump captured in 2016—a new Senate battleground poll conducted for Priorities USA and Senate Majority PAC shows that Democratic incumbents enter these midterm elections on remarkably strong footing, with the unpopular health care bill only solidifying their position.
The health care proposal is extremely unpopular in these Senate battlegrounds, with only 25% of voters there saying they hope it is signed into law. More than two-thirds of voters in 10 Senate battleground states have heard a lot or some about the Republican bill and they don’t like what they hear – 70% of voters have big concerns about the plan’s “age tax,” 68% of voters said they have big concerns about the elimination of patient protections that will cause those with pre-existing conditions to pay more and 65% of voters have big concerns about the fact that the plan will raise health care costs for many Americans.
Our survey found that after being told that the Republican candidate for Senate supported the GOP plan, voters’ impressions of the GOP candidate went from being split evenly (21% fav/20% unfav) to being unfavorable by a 2-to-1 margin (26% fav/52% unfav). After hearing criticisms of the Republican plan, voters in these Senate battlegrounds went from leaning toward voting the Democrat in 2018 by a healthy 48-38 margin to leaning toward the Democrat by an even more robust 56-35 margin – an 11-point jump.
Age Tax, Pre-Existing Conditions and Overall Higher Costs Are Senate Battleground Voters’ Top Concerns About GOP Health Bill
More than two-thirds of voters in the 10 Senate battlegrounds have heard a lot or some about the Republican bill, and by 60-25, they say they prefer that Congress work on a different solution rather than that the bill is passed by the Senate and signed into law.
Our survey tested 11 different criticisms that have been made about the Republican health care bill. All of these criticisms raised “big concerns” among at least half of the voters we surveyed; all but two of the criticisms raised big concerns among at least 60 percent of voters.
Of all the criticisms we tested, the ones causing the most concern were:
- The plan’s “age tax” that allows insurance companies to charge people over the age of 50 health care premiums that are up to five times higher than younger people. 70% of voters said this caused big concerns. This provision is particularly concerning to voters aged 45+ who make up a disproportionate percentage of midterm voters.
- The bill’s elimination of critical patient protections, such as the elimination of lifetime or annual caps on coverage, and the provision allowing states to opt to let insurers charge those with preexisting conditions at higher rates. 68% of voters said this caused big concerns.
- The fact the plan will raise costs for many Americans by forcing them to pay thousands more in premiums for skimpier health care plans. 65% of voters said this caused big concerns.
Furthermore, the majority of voters across all Senate battlegrounds are left with very unfavorable feelings towards Republican Senate candidates who support the Republican health care bill and its specific proposals including:
- 65% of voters said they had an unfavorable (55% very unfavorable) view of a Republican Senate candidate who supports the Republican health care bill that lets down older Americans and risks seniors’ ability to live independently by taking resources away from Medicare, cutting Medicaid funding for nursing homes, and letting insurance companies charge older people up to five times more than younger people for health coverage.
- 63% of voters said they had an unfavorable (53% very unfavorable) view of a Republican Senate candidate who supported the bill that takes away coverage from regular Americans who need it most by cutting health care services and increasing costs for new mothers, cancer patients, those with pre-existing conditions, low-income Americans, and the disabled, elderly, and mentally ill.
- 62% of voters said they had an unfavorable (54% very unfavorable) view of a Republican Senate candidate who supported the plan that included “a massive tax cut for millionaires and billionaires and for big drug and insurance companies and the wealthy executives who run them…all at the expense of regular Americans who will end up losing health coverage and being saddles with premiums they can’t afford.”
The Health Care Fight Puts Senate Democratic Incumbents In Even Firmer Position Heading into 2018
The Republicans’ unpopular health care bill is only improving Senate Democrats’ position heading into next year’s midterms.
In our poll, we named the likeliest Republican challengers expected to run against the Democrat in next year’s Senate races. At the beginning of our survey, impressions of these Republican candidates were fairly even split, with 21% of voters they had a favorable view, 20% saying they had an unfavorable view, and more than half saying they were neutral or did not know. But after indicating that the Republican supported the health care bill, voters’ impressions of these candidates worsened considerably, with twice as many voters (52%) saying they had an unfavorable view as opposed to a favorable one (26%).
Hearing about the criticisms made about the bill and the fact of the Republican candidate’s support for the measure also had a significant effect in the head-to-head matchup. Voters went from saying they would vote for the named Democrat over the named Republican by 48-38 to saying they would vote for the Democrat by 56-35.
The post-messaging movement is especially notable among voting groups that will be crucial to Democrats’ success in 2018:
- Among non-college whites, Democrats came from being down 42-44 to being up 52-38 after voters were told about the Republicans’ support for the health care bill.
- Independents jumped from choosing Democrats by 35-24 to 50-26.
- Among Republican women, Dems went from 16% support to 26% within that group.
About This Poll
Garin-Hart-Yang and Global Strategy Group conducted this poll by telephone June 23-27. The poll surveyed 802 voters that were evenly drawn from 10 states hosting Senate contests next year: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, West Virginia, North Dakota, Missouri, Montana and Indiana.
The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points, and care has been taken to ensure that the geographic and demographic divisions of the electorate are properly represented based on past voter turnout statistics.