So, this shouldn’t come as a shock to everyone; Obamacare isn’t popular with New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida Republican primary voters. It’s an issue that animates the base, and they’re not looking too kindly on those Republican candidates who have backed Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in their respective states. Yes, all eyes are on you Gov. John Kasich and Gov. Chris Christie.
According to a Foundation for Government Accountability poll, on average, 60 percent of GOP voters from those four states were less likely to back a candidate who expanded Obamacare. If a Republican candidate had lobbied other states to do the same 69.5 percent were less likely to support that candidate’s presidential campaign. And it should also surprise no one that 81 percent (on average) of the GOP primary voters from these states don’t support President Obama’s health care law.
The FGA poll as conducted on August 24-27, with 2,182 likely GOP voters. Five hundred and two voters were from Iowa, 520 were polled in New Hampshire, 598 were from South Carolina, and 562 were surveyed in Florida.
What about Kasich’s rise in the polls? Doesn’t that prove that maybe Republicans might be open to his candidacy? He won his second term in a landslide re-election campaign in 2014, and he’s beating Hillary in Ohio. It’s a state Republicans must win in 2016. He’s doubled his numbers in the polls and was able to get a seat at the adult’s table during the first Republican debate. Yet, he’s still in the single digits, and a tad bit ahead of George Pataki. That’s nothing to be proud of in this race, as National Review's Jim Geraghty wrote.
He could be a threat to Jeb Bush, who is seen as the other establishment candidate. The two candidates are reportedly heading for a showdown in New Hampshire. At the same time, the Medicaid expansion is going to be an issue. If Kasich’s team is reading the FGA to indicate otherwise, they’re heading for disaster.
Kasich has zero wiggle room for spin on his decision to expand Medicaid in his state since he has said God wanted Ohio to expand government-run health care in his state. Politico reported that the issue could “dog” him in Iowa and New Hampshire, but it isn’t a “fatal” issue. Nevertheless, it’s something that doesn’t help him in a crowded GOP field. Additionally, the costs associated with expanding Medicaid means that Kasich’s claim of balancing the books in the Buckeye State could easily be torpedoed in less than a decade as the program is known to be a budget buster, forcing state legislatures to find, on average, three to four dollars in cuts from other parts of their receptive budgets just to save a dollar on Medicaid. So, in a sense, it could evolve into a terminal illness for his candidacy. It also doesn’t sound good that the new class of eligible recipients consists of young, childless, and able-bodied adults who have other options for health insurance. About a third of those who are now eligible for benefits under the expansion have criminal records.
Lastly, Forbes’ Avik Roy has labeled the program a “humanitarian catastrophe” given how those without insurance fare better than those enrolled in Medicaid. Oh, and recipients have yet to report receiving better care under this government program.
Incredibly expensive, not really helping the working poor, and the quality of care is awful. Justifying the expansion of such a program could be difficult given how deep the opposition is Republican primary voters.
The same problems with Medicaid expansion also apply to Gov. Chris Christie.
LAST NOTE: Florida Republican strategist Rick Wilson's feelings on Gov. Kasich and Obamacare:
“He’s the one Republican in the field that not only embraced Obamacare, but took it out in his dad’s station wagon and made out with it...It’s not a strategy to win a Republican primary.”