Health insurance premiums are about to spike in battleground states she can’t afford to lose.
When Hillary Clinton held a seemingly insurmountable lead in most national and state polls, she didn’t need to worry about the health insurance sticker shock that much of the electorate is about to experience. Her edge was large enough to ensure victory even if she lost a couple of points due to voter anger over skyrocketing premiums caused by Obamacare. Those halcyon days are gone. Her national lead has all but evaporated, and she is behind Donald Trump or clinging to tenuous leads in crucial swing states whose voters will learn of huge rate hikes one week before Election Day.
To secure a majority in the Electoral College, Clinton must prevent Trump from winning several swing states that Obama carried in 2012. If Trump hangs on to all the states Romney won and beats Hillary in a few of these battleground states, he will be the next President. And Obamacare may well help him accomplish this feat. Trump has pledged to repeal the unpopular “reform” law while Clinton still defends it. This distinction will become particularly poignant to swing state voters whose double-digit premium hikes hit just as they are deciding for whom to cast their November ballots.
In Ohio, for example, Obama easily won in 2012 but Trump has led Clinton in 4 of the last 5 surveys of likely voters listed by RealClearPolitics. It’s probably not a coincidence that Ohio is one of the battleground states in which Obamacare has driven up out-of-pocket health care expenses. The Columbus Dispatch reports, “Ohioans insured through the Affordable Care Act will have fewer providers to choose from next year and will pay more for coverage.” Buckeye State voters aren’t likely to switch to Clinton while she continues defend the law that is causing this catastrophe.
The same dynamic is at work in Florida, another crucial swing state that Obama narrowly won in 2012. This year, as Election Day draws nigh, Floridians will discover what “affordable” means when Clinton uses the term. As the Miami Herald puts it, “Floridians who buy their own health insurance in 2017 are likely to see their premiums rise by an average of 19 percent over the current year.” As in Ohio, Trump has already erased Clinton’s Florida lead, and these Obamacare-induced rate hikes aren’t likely to send Sunshine State voters running back into her arms in November.
In addition to pulling ahead of Clinton in Ohio and Florida, Trump appears likely to pick off yet another state easily won by President Obama in 2008 and 2012. He beat both John McCain and Mitt Romney by comfortable margins in Iowa, but Hillary is having difficulties there. At present, Trump leads her by 4.3 percent in the RealClearPolitics average, and it’s probable that Obamacare-induced premium increases in that state are a contributing factor. The Des Moines Register reports that individual premiums in Iowa will increase “19 percent to 43 percent, depending on the carrier.”
Another swing state Obama easily won in 2012, where Trump has overtaken Clinton in the polls is Nevada. And what is the premium picture in the Silver State? The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports, “Average overall premiums for 2017 in Nevada are expected to increase between 7.95 and 16.99 percent.” By now, it won’t be hard to guess what the polls are showing. The most recent surveys of likely voters show Trump ahead of Clinton. The RealClearPolitics average still shows her with a lead of less than half a percent, and that will likely be long gone by Election Day.
Yet another state that Obamacare may help Trump win is Colorado. The Centennial state, according to Money, is one of several whose premiums will increase by about 25 percent. And the latest poll of likely voters shows Trump beating Clinton by 4 percent. And, if you think of Colorado as a blue state, remember that its electoral votes went to the GOP candidate in 7 of the last 10 presidential elections, including the last time a Clinton was on the ticket. It’s unlikely that Colorado’s voters will be anxious to vote for another Clinton who supports the law that caused its huge premium hike.
So, where does all this put Trump when you add up the Electoral College votes? If he wins all of the states Romney won, that gets him to 206. By adding Ohio (18), Florida (29), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), and Colorado (9), that puts him at 274—and he wins. Moreover, this is not Trump’s only route to the White House. He can give up Iowa, Nevada, and Colorado if he wins Pennsylvania, a state that will be hit hard by Obamacare-induced premium increases and where his campaign is spending a lot of resources. Pennsylvania will get Trump to 273 electoral votes if he wins the Romney states.
It is not a given, of course, that Trump will carry all of the Romney states, which brings us to North Carolina. Romney won that state in 2012 and Clinton holds a less than 1 percent lead there. But how is Obamacare working out in the Tar Heel State? Its exchange offers consumers one choice, Blue Cross & Blue Shield (BCBS), since Aetna pulled out. It isn’t difficult to predict the effect this monopoly will have on rates. As local news station WLOS reports, “BCBS is telling its agents exchange rates are going up… nearly 20 percent in 2017 after increasing 32 percent this year.”
This doesn’t guarantee that Carolina will go to Trump, or that he will hold all of the Romney states, but it will hardly endear Clinton to the voters. Last week Gallup released a new survey showing that that the number of people who have been hurt by Obamacare has reached an all time high. This law is a debilitating disease that continues to afflict her presidential bid. By itself, it probably wouldn’t be enough to kill her campaign, but combined with the other scandals that continue to undermine its immune system, Obamacare might be the infection that finally proves fatal to Clinton’s presidential ambitions.
In Greensboro, NC on September 15 (C-Span)