Political News

This poll number on health care should make Senate Republicans queasy

Posted June 28

Here's an indisputable fact: The health care legislation Senate Republicans were forced to delay a vote on Tuesday is very, very unpopular with the public.

Less than 1 in 5 people (17%) approve of the Senate bill, according to a new NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll released Wednesday morning. A majority -- 55% -- disapprove. The numbers are disastrous among Democrats (8% approve) and independents (13%) but perhaps most surprisingly bad among Republicans -- just 1 in 3 (35%) of whom approve of the Senate legislation. More self-identified conservatives disapprove of the bill (34%) than approve of it (31%).

These poll numbers are horrible -- and also the rule rather than the exception on the Republican health care replacement legislation. In a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released last Friday, 55% had an unfavorable view of the Senate bill. And the trend line -- even among Republicans -- isn't headed in the right direction; 67% had a favorable view of the health care bill in May while just 56% felt that way in June.)

In that same Kaiser poll, single-digit percentages of Republicans, Democrats and independents believe repealing the Affordable Care Act should be the"most important" priority of Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress.

To paraphrase former Washington Redskins defensive end Brian Orakpo: Come on, man. What are we even doing out here, man?

The polling seems to send a very clear message: The public doesn't want this bill.

Now, Republicans will insist that the public doesn't even really know what's in the bill. And they'll say that after Americans are educated and informed about its contents, they will like the bill much more!

Ok.

But remember who made that same argument? Barack Obama and Democrats in the House and Senate circa 2009. Just wait until the public actually sees the legislation! All of the scare tactics by Republicans will be debunked! People will love it!

The 2010 and 2014 elections -- and the Republican majorities in the House and Senate -- proved otherwise.

This new NPR poll lands like a turd in an already-ripening punch bowl for Senate Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed very hard to have a final vote on the health care legislation before Congress leaves for their Independence Day recess because he knew that delay is not passage's friend.

For all the optimism coming out of McConnell and the White House in the wake of Tuesday's decision to delay, the reality is that pushing back a vote on this legislation makes it harder, not easier to find 50 Republicans in the Senate to vote for it.

Not only do the bill's flaws continue to be picked apart and the CBO score showing that it will insure 22 million fewer people than Obamacare continue to be shown on a loop on cable TV but also wavering senators will now be confronted with rowdy town hall crowds opposed to the measure and polls like these from NPR and Kaiser.

If you are Susan Collins (Maine), Rob Portman (Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va), Dean Heller (Nevada) or, really, any other GOP senator who represents a state that is less than solidly Republican, these numbers on the health care bill have to make you nauseous. How can you vote for a bill that only one in three Republicans approve of? Or that most everyone -- including Republicans -- say isn't a top priority for them?

McConnell always had a damn-near-impossible job in wrangling 50 votes for any version of a health care bill. Polling like this makes that job even harder.

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