Tuesday’s election in Missouri included a ballot initiative where voters were asked to weigh in on whether a key provision of the “health care reform” legislation — the “individual mandate” that requires people to either get health insurance or pay a penalty — should be invalidated. More than 71 percent of the Missouri voters voted yes on that issue.
I’m sure supporters of health care reform have lots of rationalizations for the landslide in Missouri — it was a special election, Republicans were more motivated to go to the polls, serious people understand that ballot issues aren’t going to decide the matter and therefore we shouldn’t pay attention to the results, etc. — but I think the Missouri election result has to be viewed as having some significance.
The reality is that, when voters were asked to pull the lever on a key feature of the “health care reform” legislation, they rejected it overwhelmingly. Commentators can pooh-pooh the results if they wish, but does anyone doubt that if Missouri voters had overwhelmingly approved of the individual mandate that result would have been cited as evidence that popular perception of the legislation was changing?
I don’t know whether an up or down vote on one part of a complex bill can tell us much about how voters will treat members of Congress when they stand for re-election in November. Most voters aren’t single issue voters; they typically consider an incumbent’s overall record. Still, if I were a Democrat who had voted in favor of the “health care reform” legislation and its individual mandate centerpiece, the Missouri results would leave me feeling queasy.