House Republicans have now started the battle to replace the Affordable Care Act with their bill introduced on Monday. How they handle it will directly effect Congressional elections in 2018. With the massive outpouring of activism against the repeal , Democrats are entertaining hopes of winning the 24 seats they need nationally to take over the House of Representatives in 2018. New York would be a prime location to try to win some of these. However, right now, even with the intensity of opposition to Trump, that would have to be translated into action in each Congressional district.
Results from the 2016 elections which tend to have higher turnout show that there were only six of the state’s twenty seven Congressional districts in which the winner had less than 60% and three of those six were Democrats: Thomas Suozzi with 52%, Sean Patrick Maloney at 55% and Louise Slaughter at 56%. The three Republicans below 60% were John Faso at 55%, Claudia Tenney at 47% in a three way race and Thomas Reed at 58%. John Katko in central New York got 61% even though Hillary Clinton won his district.
So, it will take a large Democratic turnout to overcome the odds to win some of these districts. And, Democrats will have to field good candidates with lots of money to face the avalanche of PAC money available to Republicans. If Trump’s approval continues to be low, the Republican candidates may distance themselves from him more than they have now.
Still, Democrats faced big odds in 2006 when they won 30 seats to take the House that year. It all depends on who is turning out. In most non-Presidential years, the turnout is higher among older and whiter constituencies. That may not be the case in 2018. Republicans had a strong turnout for Trump in many areas upstate so the Republican incumbents do have to be concerned about maintaining that. The difference in intensity of the voters could make a difference in some of these districts.
Intensity will be effected by voting records so it will be interesting to watch how Republicans vote on the bill to replace the Affordable Care Act and whether thousands lose coverage in their districts if such a plan passes. Passage of an alternative is not certain given divisions among Republicans. Conservatives want to repeal more of the program than the House bill does. More moderate members think the program should make sure that people don’t lose coverage, especially on Medicaid.
Also, votes to change Medicare and Social Security could have a big impact in upstate districts which tend to be older. House Speaker Paul Ryan and many conservatives want to push ahead to change these programs but they face long odds in the Senate. For example, Social Security changes are exempt from the reconciliation budget process so 60 votes are needed to change the program.