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Why You Should Vote: Red States, Blue Priorities

November 4th, 2018, 9:42am by Sam Wang



(Written in collaboration with Owen Engel ’21.)

Progressive policies are more popular than progressive candidates. Red-state candidates who advocate for increases in the minimum wage and Medicaid expansion lose to opponents, who tar them as liberals. Yet surveys show large bipartisan majorities in favor of these same policies. This is a testament to how well it works for Republicans to make politics about candidates rather than issues.

In six states across the country, voters get to focus just on the policies. This is part of the federalist playbook that progressives and moderates are now using to move their issues forward.

Medicaid. Citizens of Utah, Nebraska, Montana and Idaho will vote on the expansion of Medicaid, which provides healthcare benefits to lower-income citizens. These states voted for Trump by margins of 18 to 25 percentage points. Yet where polls are available, Utah and Idaho the initiatives seem likely to pass. In Idaho, outgoing Republican Governor Butch Otter has backed the expansion. The Nebraska initiative has the support of serious money.

These initiatives could boost Democrats’ chances in the few vulnerable districts in these states. October polls in Utah’s 4th District show McAdams (D) with a median 0.5-point lead (n=4 polls) over Mia Love (R-inc), and Montana’s at-large district currently shows a tie (n=3) between Kathleen Williams (D) and reporter-assaulting incumbent Greg Gianforte (R). In these districts, progressives have a way to focus voters on healthcare in a very direct way. There’s no telling whether voters will vote for the progressive candidate – but if they turn out, at least they might get the policy they want.

Minimum wage increases. Polls show broad bipartisan support for increasing the minimum wage. Missouri and Arkansas voters have a chance to vote to do so. Polls also show enthusiasm for indexing the minimum wage to inflation – the Missouri initiative does that.

In the hotly contested Missouri Senate race, Claire McCaskill (D-inc.) and Josh Hawley (R) are currently tied. And Missouri’s 2nd District shows a an unclear race (D+2% and R+11% in the two polls).

Tags: 2018 Election · Health · House · Senate

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