What’s the matter with Missouri?
Last week, voters there approved Proposition C, annulling the “individual mandate” – that is, the requirement that everyone in Missouri buy health insurance or pay a fine. The final result was lopsided, with 71.1% favoring the proposition.
Much conservative ink has been spilled touting the vote as proof that Obamacare isn’t a winner at the ballot box. The Wall Street Journal, for example, declared it: “another resounding health-care rebuke to the White House and Democrats.”
FF Contributor Andrew Pavelyev argues that the Missouri results may be overhyped: “The Proposition C vote in Missouri may be a classic case of there being less than meets the eye.” This analysis is echoed by others, such as Jonathan Chait at TNR, who notes that the victory was colored by a “massively disproportionate Republican electorate.”
While I generally agree with Pavelyev’s thoughtful posts, we’re going to agree to disagree here.
My friend Henry Olsen summarizes the results in a concise blog:
While some commentators have suggested this was fueled by high Republican turnout, the results suggest otherwise. The measure passed in every county save one, heavily Democratic St. Louis City. It was approved by over 70 percent in virtually every county, and by 60-62 percent even in strongly Democratic counties such as Jackson, which includes Kansas City, Boone, which includes the University of Missouri, and St. Louis and St. Genevieve counties.
I ran by Olsen the various arguments that the Show-Me State didn’t really show much of anything.
The author’s argument is based on an incorrect understanding of Missouri election law. Since all Missourians have the right to vote in any party’s primary under Missouri’s open primary law, the fact that 65% of the ballots were cast in the Republican primary does not prove that turnout was tilted toward the GOP base. The primary election results should be understood as a solid representation of what Missouri voters think of the individual mandate.
The general point is not that Obamacare is doomed because of one proposition – but it’s striking that the legislation remains unpopular and aspects of it are incredibly unpopular.
The Missouri result, in fact, can be seen in the larger context of polling results over the last number of months. Take a look at the RealClearPolitics rolling average – the poll of polls. Since passage, Obamacare has failed to capture the public’s imagination. The most recent polling, as calculated by that publication, has the “against” up by 14.8%.
And while we can always quibble about the merits and demerits of polls, it’s interesting to note that the people in the business who, literally, have their jobs on the line, aren’t exactly extolling the merits of Obamacare.
This. Debate. Isn’t. Over.