By Richard Knox
Here’s a solid prediction about next Tuesday’s elections: They’ll be crucial to the future of universal health care in America — or at least its near-term future.
For those who believe universal coverage is a good thing, prospects aren’t terribly promising, judging from an analysis of 27 national polls scoured by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Taken altogether, the polls show increasingly negative views of the four-year-old Affordable Care Act among likely Republican and independent voters. That could tip control of the U.S. Senate to the Republicans, enabling them to attack the ACA through the budgetary process — crippling it even if they can’t repeal it without President Obama’s signature.
Six states with too-close-to-call U.S. Senate races are unfriendly territory for the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 law that aims to insure nearly all Americans.
In contrast to Massachusetts — where 57 percent support the ACA — fewer than half the voters like the health care law in New Hampshire, Colorado, North Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky and Arkansas.
“These are states where President Obama is very unpopular,” says study author Robert Blendon. “And Obamacare is not popular in those states.”
The problem, for the president and ACA supporters, is greatly worsened by low turnout. Fewer than 6 in 10 voters are expected to cast ballots, and the polls show likely voters are less inclined to support the ACA than the public at large.
“In a low-turnout election, the voters are disproportionately the core of either party,” Blendon says. “And views on what should happen with the ACA are very polarized” between the two major parties.