Articles and Analysis


Globe/UNH on Healthcare Mandate

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

Everyone is chewing over the results of the new Boston Globe/UNH survey this morning. One sentence in the Globe write-up caught the eye of both Noam Schieber and Ben Smith:

One aspect of the healthcare debate that has divided Democratic candidates is whether individuals should be required to purchase coverage - Clinton and Edwards favor a mandate, while Obama does not. A slight majority of Democratic voters who were polled - including pluralities of Clinton and Edwards supporters - opposed such a requirement.

Scheiber took it a step further:

I wondered a few weeks ago why the Clinton campaign was going negative on Obama's character instead of hitting the healthcare issue, which seemed less fraught and likely to pay dividends on both a policy level and a preparedness level. This poll hints at an explanation: Maybe it just wasn't working.

Or maybe it risks a backlash with Clinton's base. Buried in the UNH crosstabs is a pattern I had not seen before. Opposition to the notion of an individual health insurance mandate -- "should individuals be required to buy health insurance" -- is greatest among the less well-educated and downscale voters that are the core of Clinton's base in New Hampshire and elsewhere:

12-23 mandates.png

The Associated Press reported a few weeks ago that the Clinton campaign "is preparing television ads here criticizing Barack Obama's health care plan" to air in New Hampshire in the event the Obama campaign "ignites in Iowa." Most surveys show that Democrats perceive Clinton as better able to handle the issue of healthcare, and the argument made by the Clinton campaign, that Obama's plan "could leave as many as 15 million people uninsured" no doubt scores well in message testing surveys. The data above, however, suggest that such an attack risks a backlash if the debate engages on the issue of "requiring individuals to buy health insurance."



Mandates wont solve our healthcare issues, they will raise prices, something the insurance companies would gladly welcome and force people to live in the shadows when it comes to health care. Look at the mandates to buy car insurance in CA. I've been hit by two people without insurance, a mandate didn't help there.

We need to move to a single payer government regulated system, without mandates.



The question was asked in a biased fashion. The polster failed to include that the insurance woulde be subsidised. It will be at no/low cost depending on your income. If that fact is included in the question, then the numbers will change dramatically.



I agree with the fact that the question has a built in bias. Low income people are most negative on mandatory health insurance and they are probably most worried about how they would pay for it.
Many people don't know about he subsidies or what level of income would provide what level of subsidies. If I think my health insurance will cost me 10,000 per year, as it does for some people who are currently uninsured, I many not be able to afford it even if I get 1,200 per year subsidy.
This is a hard question to ask in an unbiased manner.


Tom A:

I certainly agree with Benji; a Canadian-style healthcare system is what the people really want -- they just don't know it.

But, yes, the question wasn't clear. That being the case, the outcome of the poll is neither surprising nor meaningful.



without a mandate, people will acquire insurance only when they get sick, in order to reap the benefits of our government without contributing to it.



This whole post is a bit silly, IMHO, in that the poll is clearly biased to elicit exactly the response that it got. What do you think you would get if you asked low education and income folks "should individuals be required to buy health insurance", without explaining the benefits of "mandates"? You'd get exactly what this poll found...No surprises at all.


Scott Edwards:


Can everyone say 'socialism'????


Bruce Moomaw:

To Tom A: well, it's certainly important inasmuch as it suggests a campaign-propaganda technique that could pay off very big for the GOP in the general election, unless the Dems start working NOW to make the truth clear about their proposals clear. (If the latter doesn't happen, it may be because political history is repeating itself: Obama himself is now using this same specious "mandates restrict your freedom" argument to ty and zap Hillary for the nomination, just as Gore first raised Willie Horton to try and stop Dukakis during the 1988 primary campaign and in the process handed a flaming sword to the GOP in the general election.)


Daivd T:

"just as Gore first raised Willie Horton to try and stop Dukakis during the 1988 primary campaign and in the process handed a flaming sword to the GOP in the general election.)"

Gore never mentioned Horton by name or showed "look at the scary black guy" commercials. The Massachusetts prison furlough program was a perfectly legimitate issue--Dukakis didn't start the program but he did veto a bill that would have denied such furloughs to first-degree murderers.

It is true that of the people who never returned after their weekend passes, "only" four were first-degree murderers not eligible for parole, and that only one of those (Horton) went on to commit horrendous crimes. But one was enough to show the stupidity of the veto, given that it makes no sense whatever to give weekend passes to murderers not eligible for parole. (The purpose of such passes after all is to prepare the prisoner for re-integration into society.)

*Of course* this was going to be used by Republicans whether Gore mentioned it or not, and it was also very likely that the Republicans (and especially right-wing PACs which could claim they were not coordinated with the Bush campign) would use it in a racist way (which Gore did not).

I don't blame Gore. I do blame Democratic primary voters in 1988 for suporting someone as obviously vulnerable as Dukakis. In fact, I think that primary candidates *should* call attention to things their opponents have said or done that could make them vulnerable in the general election. It is childish to think that the other party would never notice and take advantage of such vulnerabilities otherwise.


I'm italian. Here we have free universal and public health care.

I try to understand your situation but i can't. For me and for every european a free universal health care is a very normal fact since the 20s.

In Italy, when you exit from the hospital you never pay (except in a few particolar cases).
I believe that a free assistance to everyone, from the homeless to the manager is a fondamental human's right.

The State only finances health care. It doesn't decide who is the doctor that you must choose and which is the therapy you need. The doctor, with his professionalism proposes you a therapy, and you decide.

Then, when you are ill, you stay at home and you're paid almost 90% of your salary. But you must prove it by regular documents.

I hope that the democrat who succeed to win primary elections could build a national universal health care and he/she could win the match against the neocon power that already damaged the security of the entire world.

In particular I support Obama. Have a good elections-term!


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