SPOTLIGHT

The White Education Split on Obamacare

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 09: U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) (R) speaks at a press conference highlighting how veterans are being impacted by the government shutdown with (L-R) Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) at the U.S. Capitol October 9, 2013 in Washington, DC. During the event, Tester and others discussed how critical veterans services are being affected by the shutdown. 
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Scott Bland
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Scott Bland
April 11, 2014, 7:40 a.m.

The clearest di­vid­ing line on how people think about the Obama­care right now is between col­lege- and non-col­lege-edu­cated white voters, a key dis­tinc­tion as one red-state Demo­crat­ic group goes on the air with TV ads de­fend­ing the law as strongly as any spots in four years.

— In new data from the Pew Re­search Cen­ter, Obama­care ap­prov­al only nar­rowly trails dis­ap­prov­al among col­lege whites, 42%-49%. But that gap be­comes a chasm among non-col­lege whites (22%-66%). And while col­lege whites split 31%-33% on wheth­er the law will af­fect their fam­il­ies pos­it­ively or neg­at­ively in the fu­ture, non-col­lege whites em­phat­ic­ally re­ject the pos­sib­il­ity that it will help (17%-48%).

— That sets up very dif­fer­ent fights over the law in, say, Col­or­ado and New Hamp­shire (where re­cent exit polls put col­lege whites at over half the elect­or­ate) versus red states like Arkan­sas or Montana (or Ken­tucky, where the state health ex­change has per­formed well) where there have been non-col­lege white ma­jor­it­ies of voters.

— That makes the latest TV ad out in Alaska par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing: The pro-Mark Be­gich su­per PAC there is fea­tur­ing a wo­man can­cer sur­viv­or who says that after be­ing denied cov­er­age by in­sur­ance com­pan­ies, “I now have health in­sur­ance again, be­cause of Mark Be­gich.” Per­son­al­iz­ing the is­sue, which re­search demon­strates to work bet­ter than stat­ist­ics, looks like a stab at “show­ing, not telling” people that Obama­care could af­fect them pos­it­ively in the fu­ture.

Among non-col­lege whites, at least, there’s really no where for Demo­crats to go on Obama­care but up. Wheth­er that rep­res­ents an op­por­tun­ity to mes­sage to them in new ways, or a harsh real­ity ahead of Novem­ber, re­mains to be seen.
— Scott Bland

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