Opposition to Medicaid Expansion Killing Republican Governors’ 2014 Election Hopes

Opposition to Medicaid Expansion Killing Republican Governors’ 2014 Election Hopes

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Forget the media narratives that say Democrats could lose because of their support for Obamacare. While that convenient narrative is easy for beltway reporters to regurgitate, it is not supported by polling evidence. Polling data suggests that contrary to the dominant narrative, health care is a winning issue for Democrats not Republicans. This has become especially apparent in the many contests for Governorships across the country.

Recent polling done by Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that five incumbent Republican Governors who  oppose Medicaid expansion are in danger o losing their bids or re-election.  Not surprisingly, Maine Republican Paul LePage and Pennsylvania Republican Tom Corbett trail in their bids for re-election as their right-wing policies are far out of line with their blue-leaning electorates. However, even in Georgia and Kansas, Republican incumbents are losing to Democratic challengers. Even in these deep red states, a solid majority of voters want their Governors to expand Medicaid.

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No Governor has made opposition to Medicaid expansion more a cornerstone of his campaign than Rick Scott in Florida. Yet, by a 58-33 margin, Florida voters want their Governor to accept the federal funding for Medicaid expansion. More than four in ten Florida voters say Rick Scott’s dogmatic opposition to Medicaid expansion makes them less likely to vote or him. In a head to head match-up with Democrat Charlie Crist, Rick Scott is losing 49-42 percent. GOP opposition to Medicaid expansion will prove to be Rick Scott’s undoing.

The pattern is repeated in state after state. Maine’s Paul LePage, another fierce opponent of Medicaid expansion, trails Democrat Michael Michaud 44-37. If not for left-leaning Independent Elliot Cutler polling at 14 percent, LePage would be losing by double digits. As bad as Rick Scott and Paul LePage are doing, they at least are not as hopelessly doomed as Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett. The Republican Keystone state Governor is poised to be crushed in a blowout of epic proportions this November. He currently trails a hypothetical Democratic opponent by a punishing 56-34 margin.

Two additional Governors who oppose Medicaid expansion are losing much closer races. However, given that they are in Kansas and Georgia, this should serve as little consolation to the GOP. In Georgia, Jason Carter (D) holds a narrow 43-42 edge over Governor Nathan Deal (R).  In Kansas, a state which Barack Obama lost by 22 points to Mitt Romney in 2012, Democratic candidate Paul Davis is leading Sam Brownback 45-41.

Republican Governors and their surrogates will continue to argue that Democrats are losing the debate on health care, but they do so at their own peril. Republican Governors who rejected the federal Medicaid expansion face being rejected by voters in November. From Tallahassee to Topeka, the GOP’s policies blocking health care access to low-income residents is set to backfire at the polls. For constituents in need of affordable medical care, November 2014 cannot come soon enough.

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