Easier said than done, as Mitch McConnell has discovered this summer. After promising a repeal of ObamaCare for seven years, Republicans in the Senate have developed a case of cold feet now that they have the opportunity to get it accomplished, thanks to the complexities involved in rolling back market-altering statutes, regulations, and taxes. A new poll from Politico and Morning Consult shows that two-thirds of Republican voters still expect the GOP to deliver on that promise — although a majority now wants the effort to be bipartisan:
A clear majority of Republican voters, 67 percent, want the GOP to continue to work to repeal and replace the health care law, compared to only 21 percent who want party leaders to move on. Among all voters, 40 percent want congressional Republicans to continue to work on a new health care bill, and 47 percent want them to move on. …
More than half of Republican voters who want the GOP to keep trying to repeal Obamacare, 54 percent, want their leaders to work with Democrats, while just 39 percent want them to work only with other Republicans.
“Despite the legislative hurdles, two-thirds of Republicans want Congress to continue efforts to repeal and replace the ACA,” said Morning Consult Co-founder and Chief Research Officer Kyle Dropp. “With that in mind, 54 percent say they want their party to compromise with Democrats to reach bipartisan reforms, rather than working only with Republicans.”
The poll was taken last weekend, when the Senate stalled on its first version of the Better Care Reform Act (BCRA), and before news broke that a new version would get released this week. BCRA-1 turned out to be pretty popular among Republican voters, with a 68/19 approval rating. Self-described conservatives liked it too, 63/24, despite some opposition among activist groups.
Unfortunately, those are about the only demos that approved of the bill. Among independents it only got a 30/52 rating, and its best age-demo support was 44/42 among 30-44YOs. Higher-income voters liked it 51/38, but everyone else under the $100K income opposed it, including a 35/49 among working-class Americans (under $50K). Women oppose it 32/52, driven largely by a 12/75 rating among Democratic women but also a 26/52 rating among independent women.
The part about compromising with Democrats is fanciful — an easy poll question about a mythological option. So what if 54% of Republicans wish the GOP could work with Democrats on an ObamaCare repeal? It’s not an option in the real world, because Democrats will not ever repeal ObamaCare. They want more money to shore it up, and are banking on a McConnell failure to gain leverage for that option.
The problem for McConnell is that he has to retain credibility with Republican voters first and foremost. They have power completely in their hands for the first time in a decade in large part because of their pledge to repeal ObamaCare. If they don’t deliver on that, and instead “compromise with Democrats to reach bipartisan reforms” that further entrenches federal government control of health-insurance markets, those voters could rationally conclude that it doesn’t make much difference which party controls Congress in the future.
With that perhaps in mind, McConnell has scheduled an all-caucus meeting for tomorrow morning. At that time, we may find out what BCRA2 looks like, and whether Senate Republicans will take that pledge seriously enough to coalesce behind a consensus bill to fulfill it.