With few Senate Republicans up for reelection in 2018, Democrats and other groups looking to defeat the GOP’s plan to repeal Obamacare are looking ahead to 2020 to pressure politically vulnerable senators.
Save My Care, a progressive group dedicated to defeating repeal attempts, is out with new surveys from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showing the GOP proposal, which would cut Medicaid funding and repeal Obamacare’s tax increases, is deeply unpopular in Iowa, North Carolina and Colorado — three swing states where Republican Senate wins in 2014 helped the GOP win control of the chamber.
In Iowa, where Trump won by a wide margin in 2016, only 27 percent of voters approve of the bill, and 54 percent disapprove, according to PPP’s automated poll in that state. In Colorado, where Clinton won, only 26 percent approve and 59 percent disapprove. And in North Carolina, where Trump won by small margin, 33 percent of voters approve and 53 percent disapprove.
All three states feature senators facing reelection in three years: Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who is also the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman; Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina; and Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa. Of the three, Ernst is in the strongest position in the Save My Care polling, leading a generic Democratic opponent 48 percent to 41 percent. Tillis is trailing a generic Democrat, 48 percent to 44 percent, and Gardner is trailing 53 percent to 39 percent.
The polling is designed to show the three senators they may fave political peril even if they’re not up for reelection in 2018. With narrow margins in the Senate, Democrats are aiming to deter as many Republicans as possible from becoming clear ‘yea’ votes, staring with Republicans who won their seats previously held by Democrats during the GOP wave year of 2014.
"There is clear evidence that supporting this health care repeal will do lasting damage to a Senator’s standing with the voters in their state," strategists with Save My Care wrote in a polling memo. "Voters will reject Senators who support repeal."
The only Republican facing reelection in 2018 in a state won by Democrat Hillary Clinton, Nevada’s Dean Heller, has been harshly critical of the GOP proposal. But AARP has run ads attacking the bill in Gardner’s Colorado, and in Alaska, the home of Sen. Dan Sullivan. The American Medical Association has also released polling showing the bill is unpopular in Colorado, Alaska and Arkansas.
The Save My Care polls specifically asked whether Congress should continue working to repeal Obamacare or if they should focus on fixing the law when they return from the Fourth of July recess. In Colorado, voters prefer a fix by a 59 percent to 36 percent margin. In North Carolina, a fix is favored by 53 percent to 40 percent, and those numbers are 54 percent to 34 percent in Iowa.
The polling also shows voters, by roughly 50-percentage point margins, are less likely to back Republican senators for reelection if they vote for the law, and that large majorities in each state say health care will be one of their top issues during the 2018 midterm elections.
Public Policy Polling conducted the survey of 870 voters in Colorado, 1,102 voters in North Carolina and 784 voters in Iowa on June 30 and July 1. Read the full results for Colorado, North Carolina and Iowa.