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Analysis: Less Than A Third Of Missourians And Kansans Support House Health Care Act

Kaiser Family Foundation
Polls by several organizations, including the Kaiser Family Foundation, show that the American Health Care Act is the most unpopular piece of legislation that Congress has considered in decades.

Just 31 percent of Kansans and 32 percent of Missourians support the House-approved bill to repeal Obamacare, according to new estimates published Wednesday in The New York Times

In fact, not one state has a majority of residents who are for the measure, with support ranging from a low of 22 percent in Massachusetts (Washington, D.C., is even lower at 16 percent) to a high of 38 percent in Oklahoma, according to the estimates.

The findings, by political scientists Christopher Warshaw of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and David Broockman of Stanford University, are based on eight national polls conducted between March and June and a statistical method used to estimate state-level public opinion.

The authors say the bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), is “the most unpopular piece of major legislation Congress has considered in decades – even more unloved than TARP (‘the bailout’), and much more unpopular than the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.”

Even in states that voted for President Donald Trump last year, they note, support for the AHCA is rarely over 35 percent.

The authors ask how many senators might lose their seats by supporting the bill. Their answer: Democrats who supported Obamacare lost about six percentage points among voters in 2010 – “a dangerous omen for the 15 sitting Republican senators who won their most recent elections by less than that number.”

That said, Kansas’ two senators, Republicans Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, both won their last elections by comfortable margins. Missouri’s one Republican senator, Roy Blunt, edged out Jason Kander by fewer than three percentage points, but he’s not up for election again until 2022.

Chris Warshaw is an associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He and David Broockman of Stanford University found that the American Health Care Act is not supported by a majority of residents of any state.

However, Roberts’ 10-point margin of victory in 2014 (53-43) means that the six-point penalty cited in the article, had it befallen him, could have flipped the election to his opponent (49-47).

“So I think it’s fair to say this bill could place him in danger next time,” Warshaw said in an email to KCUR. 

Warshaw also agreed that the impact of the AHCA is likely to be blunted by the next election.

“But it’s hard to say for sure — there’s really no precedent for a major law this unpopular passing Congress,” he said. “So I think it’s likely to have some impact (though possibly relatively small) in 2022.”

He added that a vote for the AHCA “will clearly hurt Republicans,” especially those in swing states like Nevada and Arizona.

The Senate is working on its own version of the AHCA, but deliberations have been confined to a group of 13 Republican senators, all male, who have worked behind closed doors. Much of the bill’s contents remain a mystery. 

Dan Margolies is KCUR’s health editor. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.

Dan Margolies has been a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star, and KCUR Public Radio. He retired as a reporter in December 2022 after a 37-year journalism career.
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