Bloggers try to parse the result of a Missouri ballot initiative that state voters overwhelmingly approved Tuesday. The initiative, which challenges the federal health overhaul’s individual insurance mandate, was the first of its kind to go up for a vote in the states, and more are expected this fall.
Time’s Kate Pickert notes, “The measure, which says Missouri residents can’t be required to maintain health insurance, is largely symbolic since federal law trumps state law. There was almost no organized opposition to the measure and the various races in the state likely drew out more Republican voters. (The primaries are not closed – voters choose which party ballot to use at the polling sites – but about 600,000 Missourians cast ballots in the Republican Senate primary compared to about 300,000 in the Democratic Senate primary.)” Still, she concludes, the strong support the initiative garnered “says much about the strength of opposition to the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”
The Heritage Foundation’s Rob Bluey calls the vote “a significant setback” for the health overhaul law.
Michael Tanner writes on Critical Condition that the vote is “even worse for [Democrats] than it looks.” Tanner argues: “even if you assume that every single Republican voted for the initiative and every person who didn’t vote in a primary voted for it, at least 40,000 Democrats — more than one in every eight Democratic primary voters — voted against the centerpiece of President Obama’s health-care plan. And these aren’t just any registered Democrats; these are the party activists, the Democratic base. Do we need any more evidence of how unpopular this bill is?”
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey make a similar point: “Bear in mind that over 315,000 Democrats turned out to cast ballots in the primary that nominated Robin Carnahan, while over 577,000 Republicans hit the polls. That is about a 65/35 split — which means that a significant amount of Democrats either supported the ballot measure repudiating ObamaCare, or didn’t bother to cast a vote to defend the program. Actually, Prop C got more votes than the combined voting in both Senate primaries — which tells us something even more about the passion in the electorate. Democrats may have to hit the panic button after seeing the results from this swing state. ObamaCare set fire to the electorate last year, and that may be an inferno for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in November.”
Insure Blog’s Bob Vineyard acknowledges the vote’s symbolic nature, but asks, “Question is, are politicians listening or are they simply following their own personal agenda?”
But Health Beat’s Maggie Mahar is non-plussed. Mahar says the vote only proved “That Republicans don’t like health reform. … Because the Republican primary was hotly contested, GOP voters came out in force. So now we know what have known for months: Republicans are opposed to health care reform. Many just don’t see universal coverage as a top priority, some are worried that it will cost too much, and others just want to ‘break Obama.’”
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein expresses similar sentiments. He writes, “I’m really not sure why conservatives are so excited that an electorate primarily made of Republican primary voters passed an anti-individual mandate ballot initiative in Missouri. I don’t even understand why conservatives would be excited if it passed during a normal election.” In making his case, Klein points to the law’s symbolic nature and the fact that it focused on the individual mandate as opposed to other aspects of the bill as his reasons for not understanding the GOP take on the news.
Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky doesn’t think Republicans will have much success with this strategy either: “Thus far, the success of this strategy has been limited to Missouri. Arizona — which has put an anti-mandate initiative on the ballot in November — may soon pass a nullification measure, but these states are the exception rather than the rule. In fact, nullification bills have been rejected or failed to pass in at least 26 states where conservatives ‘claimed legislators would defy federal law.’”
And don’t miss the latest Health Wonk Review, a biweekly roundup of health policy blogging, hosted by Jaan Sidorov of the Disease Management Care Blog.