Midterm Voters Didn't View Health Care Law As Priority

How important was the new health-care law to Election Day voters? A Kaiser Family Foundation poll suggests it wasn't the top priority.

In a confirmation of other post-vote polling, the Kaiser health tracking poll released Tuesday found the economy was most decisive factors in how people voted. The health-care law came in fourth on the list after party affiliation and perceptions of the candidates.

An excerpt from Kaiser's summary  of the findings.

The poll finds that voters say health care reform was a factor that influenced their vote, but not a dominant one. The economy/jobs was the factor mentioned by voters most often (29%), followed by party preference (25%) and views of the candidates themselves (21%). Health care ranked fourth at 17 percent. Those 17 percent of voters who named health care as one of their top voting factors were more likely than non-health care voters to back a Republican candidate for Congress (59% vs. 44%), and to say they have a “very unfavorable” view of the law (56% vs. 33%).

Looking ahead, Americans remain divided about what lawmakers should do, with 21 percent of the public favoring expansion of the health reform law, 19 percent wanting to leave it as is, a quarter wanting to repeal parts of the law, and 24 percent wanting the entire law repealed. Among mid-term voters, a majority (56%) would like to see the law repealed entirely or in part. Voters split sharply along partisan lines. Two-thirds of those who voted for Democratic candidates want the law expanded or left as is, while and eight in 10 of those who voted Republican support full or partial repeal.

On one hand, it seems something of a contradiction that voters should say that the health-care law wasn't a top priority but then turn around and by a very strong percentage - 56 percent - indicate they would like to see the law repealed.

But turnout last week skewed Republican with independents breaking for GOP candidates to a significant degree.

In an review of the turnout data for midterm elections, Curtis Gans of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University, found that registered Republicans made up 19.5 percent of the eligible vote that came out last week while Democrats comprised 16 percent.

Based on this, congressional Republicans certainly have reason to believe there's significant voter support for a repeal of health care.

On the other hand, so many voters who didn't vote last week, including many Democrats, would oppose such a repeal.

With a general election just two years away in which Democratic voters are likely to have significantly higher turnout, by attacking the health care law, congressional Republicans could risk firing up Democratic voters.

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