A Vote Against Self Interest

Voting patterns and self interests don't alway mix as one would assume. Bill Bishop looks at the political ripples being caused by healthcare and coal issues in Kentucky.

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Those of you who think self interest dictates how people vote will want to pick up a recent article in the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader.

The story reports that there was a strong correlation between the number of people signed up for Medicaid under “Obamacare” and the outcome of the recent election for governor.

A Kentucky university professor found that the higher the percentage of people enrolled in Medicaid in a county, the greater the vote for Republican candidate (and winner) Matt Bevins.

Yes, the larger the proportion of people who benefited from President Obama’s health care initiative, the larger the vote for the guy who promised to end that program in Kentucky.

A half million Kentuckians have gotten health insurance under the Affordable Health Care Act (aka Obamacare). Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear supported the health care initiative and the Democrat running to replace him (Jack Conway) said he would continue to enroll Kentuckians in the program.

Bevins said he would work to repeal President Obama’s health care reform.

Reporter John Cheeves went to Owsley County, where 66 percent of the people get health coverage through Medicaid, but where 70 percent of the people voted for the Republican who would end Obamacare’s Medicaid coverage. He found a community college student who said it would be a “big problem” if she lost her Obamacare insurance. She voted for the Republican anyway. “I’m just a die-hard Republican,” she said.

Cheeves also talked to county judge Cale Turner, a Democrat, who wasn’t surprised by the result.

“To be honest with you, a lot of folks in Owsley County went to the polls and voted against gay marriage and abortion, and as a result, I’m afraid they voted away their health insurance,” Turner said. “Which was their right to do, I guess. But it’s sad. Many people here signed up with Kynect, and it’s helped them, it’s been an absolute blessing.”

Transylvania University political scientist Andrea Malji, who did the study of the vote, is from rural Pulaski County. The Republican won 72 percent of the vote there, but it is also a county where thousands had signed up for health care coverage under the federal act.

“There’s either voter disconnect here, where the people weren’t thinking about or weren’t aware of Bevin’s stance on health care, or these counties just have higher levels of social conservatives who thought it was more important to vote on social issues,” Malji said.

Apparently so.

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YouGov reports that people who have gained medical coverage under the federal health care reform law think Obamacare is working. Those who remain uninsured want the law repealed.

Americans have “become more accepting of the Affordable Care Act over the last year,” YouGov reports. Still, “nearly twice as many call it a failure as think it a success.”

How does that translate into votes? After the election results in Kentucky, who knows!!

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OK, if health care coverage doesn’t swing votes, how about the renewable fuels standard (RFS)?

The RFS is a federal program that requires fuel for cars and trucks to contain a certain amount of renewable fuels — which comes mostly from corn. Farm groups like the RFS because it increases the demand for crops.

The National Farmers Union recently conducted a poll on the RFS in six congressional districts in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio and South Dakota. NFU President Roger Johnson told AgriPulse that his results “demonstrates the importance of support for the Renewable Fuel Standard from political candidates in rural areas.”

He said the poll results “show a clear political advantage for candidates that support the RFS, a policy that has been a shot in the arm for rural economies.” Democrats, Republicans and those in between all like the RFS in these rural congressional districts.

President Obama is considering lowering the RFS volume requirements. Johnson and others contend that support for RFS is a way for Democrats to regain losses suffered in rural areas.

We would note that we listened to the Democratic debate in Des Moines Saturday night and head not a word about farms, farmers, rural areas or the renewable fuels standard.

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Democrat Hillary Clinton announced a $30 billion proposal to help coalfield communities.

The economies of eastern coalfield counties have essentially collapsed as the nation has turned away from coal to generate electricity, a switch Clinton supports. “But we can’t ignore the impact this transition is already having on mining communities, or the threat it poses to the health care and retirement security of coalfield workers and their families,” her campaign wrote. “This is particularly true in Appalachia, where production has been declining for decades.”

Clinton’s proposal got tepid response in Kentucky, according to the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader. Coalfield politicians there believe strict regulation on burning coal is the primary cause of the decline. “Anybody’s plan that doesn’t address that is not going to be well received in my area,” said Harlan County Judge Executive Dan Mosley, a Democrat.

 

 

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