Political News

1 number that shows us people really, really like their health care

Posted December 9, 2019 6:33 p.m. EST

— Here's a number to chew on: 71%.

That's the percentage of Democrats in new Gallup polling that say their health care is either "excellent" or "good." Which is a very interesting finding given that the biggest divide within the 2020 Democratic field is over health care.

On one side are former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who support a sort-of mend-it-don't-end-it approach to the current law of the land -- the Affordable Care Act. Both Biden and Buttigieg support keeping the Affordable Care Act, passed into law by President Barack Obama, while seeking to fix the parts of the law -- high premium costs, lack of choice -- that have come under criticism.

On the other side are Sens. Bernie Sanders (Vermont) and Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts), both of whom support "Medicare for All," which would get rid of all private health insurance in favor of a government-run system. Their argument is that the current system -- put in place by Obama -- is an improvement on what it replaced but is simply not enough, and needs to go in order to be replaced by a public health insurance system.

If you are Sanders or Warren, the Gallup numbers have to give you some pause. When seven in 10 of your voters say they are happy with something -- anything! -- it is usually inadvisable to stake your campaign on the idea that the thing they like needs to be fundamentally altered.

Now, you can -- and they will -- argue that people may like their coverage but that these Democrats believe deep down that the best way to cover everyone at an affordable cost is Medicare for All. And that their principles will trump their personal satisfaction with their health care.

Which could happen. But doesn't seem likely.

The Point: Health care has been at the center of, at least, the last five national elections -- dating back to the 2010 midterms. These Gallup numbers suggest that health care could also decide the identity of the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020.

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