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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Voters in the Individual Market

Resurgent Republic argues that Democrats err badly by minimizing the political significance of voters in the individual insurance market, many of whom are facing cancellations because of Obamacare.
The percentage of voters in the individual market is larger than their share of the population at large. Among the total U.S. population, 5 percent (or as many as 15 million people) pay for their health insurance individually, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In the lead up to last year’s presidential election, 21 percent of likely voters were in the individual market. This figure is very similar to our finding in 2009 where the self-insured equaled 18 percent of registered voters. Exit polls did not ask if voters have health insurance or what type, so it’s difficult to estimate the final percentage of the 2012 electorate. Even if turnout of low-enthusiasm voters cut the percentage in half, the percentage of self-insured voters would still be larger than their share of the population.

Like most voters with health insurance, self-insured voters are overwhelmingly satisfied with their coverage. Three-fourths (77 percent) of those self-insured are either very or somewhat satisfied with their plan. That’s not far off from the electorate at large where 84 percent report being very or somewhat satisfied. Therefore, the salient reason why President Obama is on the defensive regarding his “if you like it, you can keep it” pledge is not just because he misled voters. It’s because he did so on a topic where solid majorities of voters do indeed like their health plan and thereby assumed the law would not upend their coverage.
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Despite favorable demographics, data during the 2012 campaign indicate Republicans underperformed with self-insured voters. They held a favorable opinion of President Obama (51 to 45 percent), and an unfavorable opinion of Mitt Romney (49 to 43 percent). Congressional Republicans faced a similar 6-point deficit on favorability and a 3-point disadvantage on the generic ballot. These are not the type of numbers one would expect from this voter profile.
The group reports that the issue could resonate in key Senate races: