Saturday, June 16, 2018
Opinion

Column: GOP senators might not realize it, but not one state supports the AHCA

It is no secret that the American Health Care Act is unpopular. In recent national polls, only about 29 percent of Americans support the bill. It is the most unpopular piece of major legislation that 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.

Will Republican senators vote yes on a bill this unpopular? To hang on to their jobs, senators have to keep only voters in their own states happy, not the entire nation. Perhaps red-state senators, or even some senators in swing states, might think their states are friendlier to the bill than the nation as a whole.

Our research indicates that is not the case. To get a sense of support by state, we combined recent polls to estimate support for the AHCA in every senator's home state. Our estimates indicate that not one state favors it.

Even though very few state polls have been conducted on views of the AHCA, we are able to estimate views on the bill in each state using a statistical method called MRP (multilevel regression and postratification) and eight national polls that the Kaiser Family Foundation, YouGov and Public Policy Polling shared with us on people's views on the AHCA. While no polling system is infallible, our MRP model combines respondents' demographic characteristics, their state and their views of the AHCA to estimate the probability that a voter of a certain age, race and gender, and in a state with certain characteristics, would support the proposal. It then estimates support for the bill within every state based on each state's demographics. Models like this have been used to accurately predict public opinion in states on other topics, and in this month's election in Britain.

We found that Republicans have produced a rare unity among red and blue states: opposition to the AHCA. Even across all the states that voted for President Donald Trump last year, we estimate that support for the AHCA is rarely more than 35 percent.

How many senators might lose their seats as a result of supporting the bill? A recent study found that Democrats who supported Obamacare lost about 6 percentage points in the vote in 2010 — a dangerous omen for the 15 sitting Republican senators who won their most recent elections by less than that number.

With this said, it is hard to know just how politically damaging supporting the AHCA would be. On the one hand, no major bill this unpopular has passed in decades, but some voters might forget about the AHCA, or change their opinions, by the time some senators face re-election.

Critics of the bill should not assume that Republican senators know where their states stand. Research shows that politicians are surprisingly poor at estimating public opinion in their districts and states, Republicans in particular. GOP politicians tend to overestimate support for conservative health care views by about 20 percentage points.

Christopher Warshaw is an associate professor of political science at MIT. David Broockman is an assistant professor of political economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. © 2017 New York Times

Comments
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

This fall voters will have 13 constitutional amendments to wade through on the ballot, but Amendment 4 should get special focus. It represents a rare opportunity to rectify a grievous provision in the Florida Constitution, which permanently revokes t...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18
Editorial: How Florida and the Trump administration are tampering with your health care

Editorial: How Florida and the Trump administration are tampering with your health care

The Trump administration just can’t stop sabotaging Americans’ access to health care. Instead of giving up after it failed to persuade Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it continues to quietly undermine the law in ways that would reduce acc...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Parkland students set example for advocacy

Music is healing. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School put that theory on display Sunday night in New York with their stirring performance at the Tony Awards — beautifully.The students, all from the school’s drama department, bro...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/13/18