The Healthcare Attacks

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 27, 2018 — Now that the economy is rolling, surveys are beginning to show that jobs and taxes are lesser campaign issues.

Some state and district polls indicate that the economy is dropping from the most important issue commonly cited all the way down to number three. Depending on the district or state location, immigration moves into the second slot, while healthcare now becomes the top concern. Most research consistently finds these three issues, in some order, as the most important set of topics that could move voters in an election, however.

Therefore, it is not surprising to see the two major party congressional arms attacking their opponents about healthcare, but from very different perspectives. The method of attack is becoming prevalent in virtually all of the top campaigns.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) ad attacking Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) in a suburban Chicago race

Democrats, usually using the DCCC as their message delivery entity, though the House Majority PAC, which is the Democrats’ main outside organization commonly involved in congressional races, is also a major part of the attack portfolio, hits Republican incumbents for voting to end coverage for pre-existing conditions.

The GOP angle, coming from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and often the Congressional Leadership Fund, the main outside entity supporting Republican candidates, counters over the Democrats’ “Medicare for all” issue point. Explaining that this idea would place all Americans in a government-run healthcare system underscores that those who have private health insurance will lose it, in lieu of placing everyone into a government-run system.

Two typical examples are ad campaigns currently being run against Rep. Roskam in the Chicago suburbs (see above) and open seat candidate Xochitl Torres-Small (D-NM) in southern New Mexico (see below). The latter district is the seat that Rep. Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs) is vacating to run for governor.

The DCCC hits Rep. Roskam over taking “$370,000 from big insurance” and then voting to “gut protections for pre-existing conditions like cancer and charge older Americans and women more.”

NRCC ad attacking candidate Torres-Small

Using the tag line that “Xochitl Torres-Small would take from us and give it all to Washington,” the NRCC ad says the “Medicare for all” healthcare idea would “double the income tax on every family,” while “putting Washington bureaucrats in charge.”

We can expect to see these attack lines running in political contests across the country over the final campaign weeks, which will likely be determinative for many election outcomes. It remains to be seen which will be the more effective angle.

Polling in both the Roskam race and the southern New Mexico campaign is very tight.

A Garin-Hart-Yang Research survey for the Sean Casten (D) campaign (Sept. 8-10; 400 likely IL-6 voters) now finds Rep. Roskam trailing 47-44 percent. But, the Siena College/New York Times survey for this district, which is part of a major national survey campaign to test as many as 100 congressional campaigns (Sept. 4-6; 512 likely IL-6 voters from 36,355 calls) gives the congressman a 45-44 percent slight edge over Casten. Clearly, this campaign is a pure toss-up as the candidates continue to languish within the polling margin of error.

The Siena College/NYT series also looked at the NM-2 race. This survey (Sept. 13-18; 503 likely NM-2 voters from 17,201 calls) gives Torres-Small a one-point 46-45 percent lead over GOP state Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamogordo).

With both of these, and many other campaigns locked in virtual ties, the healthcare issue will become a determinative factor in this pair of contests, and many others. Issues such as this could well make 2018 a transformational political year.

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