The latest Democratic polling from Iowa reveals that the Clinton campaign’s decision to attack Bernie Sanders on healthcare is backfiring and could cost her a victory in the Hawkeye State.
For weeks, the Clinton campaign has tried to separate itself from Sanders on healthcare. During the NBC Democratic debate, Clinton said, “We’ve accomplished so much already. I do not want to see the Republicans repeal it. And I don’t wanna see us start over again with a contentious debate. I want us to defend and build on the Affordable Care Act and improve it.”
Yesterday, while campaigning in Iowa, the former secretary of state used a different version of the same line, “I know Senator Sanders cares about covering more people, as I do, but rather build on the progress that has been made, he wants to start over from scratch with a whole new system.”
The campaign’s decision to attack from the right on healthcare could be costing Clinton a potential victory in Iowa. In the Nov/Dec 15 CNN/ORC Iowa poll, Clinton led Sanders 63%-31% on the issue of healthcare. Today, Sanders leads Clinton 51%-45%.
The problem with the Clinton stance on healthcare is that many Democrats appreciate the Affordable Care Act, but they have always wanted to go further. A December 2015, Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found that 58% of all Americans supported a Medicare for all plan, such as what Bernie Sanders has proposed. Support was even higher for the Sanders plan among Democrats (81%), and Independents (60%). The idea of Medicare for all was opposed by 63% of Republicans.
The Clinton campaign’s strategy to launch a conservative attack which they wanted to be a defense of the ACA has resulted in Clinton sounding like she is opposed to an idea that is wildly popular with Democrats and Independents.
Polling shows that the health care attack has backfired on the Clinton campaign in Iowa. Running to the right of Bernie Sanders on healthcare isn’t working, and appears to be alienating Iowa Democrats.
The campaign’s decision to go with a relatively conservative position on health care may help them in a general election, but it is doing them no favors in the first in the nation caucus.