The Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog

Health Care Reform From One Person's Perspective

Posts Tagged ‘Rudy Giuliani’

New Hampshire Votes: Thoughts on the Republican Primary

Posted by Alan on January 8, 2008

If Pete Townsend wrote a rock opera about the 2008 New Hampshire primary, no doubt there would be a moment when former President Bill Clinton would sing of Senator John McCain,

I thought I was
The New Hampshire comeback king.
But I just handed my comeback crown to hi – im

Written off just months ago, New Hampshire voters revived and revved up the Arizona Senator’s campaign with what appears to be shaping up as a strong victory over former Governor Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, Iowa winner former Governor Mike Huckabee, bereft of a strong evangelical presence, finished a distant third. (According to a CNN exit poll, evangelicals made up about 60 percent of Iowa Republican caucus goers, but only about 21 percent of New Hamphsire voters).

My guess is that the GOP — or at least the GOP leadership — will start rallying around Senator McCain. He now stands, ironically given his personality and history, as the most undamaged “traditional” Republican in the race. Conservative, but with an independent streak, his position on social issues could appeal to the GOP’s church going constituency while his pragmatism could appeal to Wall Street going Republicans.

Governor Romney on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be appealing to enough of any constituency resulting in a campaign that has little momentum at all — at least not of the forward variety. To be fair, however, exit polls indicate the Governor got the majority of Republicans casting ballots, but Senator McCain made up more than the difference by earning the support of independent voters (in New Hampshire, independents can choose which primary to participate in on election day, and more than 40 percent of New Hampshire voters belong to neither major party). Huckabee is clearly energizing the social conservative wing of the Republican party, but he has yet to gain much support from the business side of the party. The result, he ran a distant third in New Hampshire.

The wild card is former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. It’s hard to envision Republicans nominating a pro-choice, anti-gun, New Yorker, but anything is possible. Mayor Giuliani strategy is either brilliant or fatally flawed. His plan seems to be to avoid the early nominating contests in states like Iowa, New Hampshire and the upcoming South Carolina, let the other candidates engage in an exhausting elimination battle, resulting in one, damaged candidate stumbling into the states where the Mayor is making his stand, like Florida. The danger, however, is that by missing the early events, the Mayor could make himself irrelevant, ceding time to a candidate to become the decisive frontrunner who will barrell into the next wave of primaries sails full and war chest replenished.

Michigan, which holds its primary next Tuesday, January 15th, will be critical. Governor Romney (whose father was governor of the state), Governor Huckabee and Senator McCain have all polled well there at one time or another. The state could propel any of the three front-runners to an all but unassailable position or further muddy the waters.

The next test for the GOP will come just four days later when Nevadans caucus and South Carolina Republicans head for the polls (the Democratic primary in South Carolina is a week later). Will Michigan resurrect Governor Romney? Is resurrection even possible for his campaign? Will South Carolina revive Governor Huckabee? Will he need reviving after Michigan? Can Senator McCain unite the party in less than two weeks? Or will they all stumble into Florida on January 29th where Mayor Giuliani awaits?

Wish I knew, but I can’t wait to find out.


Posted in Politics, Presidential Election | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Close Votes in Reader Presidential Survey Results

Posted by Alan on January 8, 2008

The polls are open in New Hampshire, but they’ve closed on the first Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog Unscientific Presidential Survey (the AKHCRBUPS, for short). And while we won’t know who won in the Granite state for awhile, we can now report on the winners, and losers, among this blog’s readers.

Republicans: Respondents gave a plurality of their first place votes to former-Mayor Rudy Giuliani takes the top spot followed closely by Senator John McCain who, in turn, was just ahead of former Governor Mike Huckabee. Former front-runner and former Governor Mitt Romney finished a distant fourth.

The survey asked participants to list their second and third choice. Weighting the results (first place = 3, second place =2 and third place =1), however, doesn’t change the order of the finish, although Governor Romney does move closer to the pack as does former Senator Fred Thomas. 

The comments provided by respondents showed some Republicans displeased with their choices this election cycle. As one Republican put it, “It just might be the first time I won’t go to the polls during the primary season.”

Republicans were asked whether they “would be willing to support a Democratic candidate in the general election” and, if so, which one. A majority said no. But of those who said yes, Senator Barack Obama was their top choice, followed by former Senator John Edwards.

Democrats: Senator Hillary Clinton would be the Comeback Kid of 2008 if New Hampshire follows the AKHCRBUPS results. She tied Senator Obama for the top spot as the first choice among Democrats. Yep, tied. (They were right, every vote does count!) Senator Edwards was a distant third.

When second and third choice votes are taken into account, Senator Obama squeaks out a win over Senator Clinton. Senator Edwards and Governor Bill Richardson makes strong moves, however, with Senator Edwards coming in just ahead of the Governor. Governor Richardson seems to impress more people than are voting for him. One supporter of Senator Clinton said, “I think Richardson is being overlooked. His … national experience would be a BIG help should he be elected.” Is this the start of a Clinton/Richardson boomlet? (Probably not, but I though it was interesting.)

Good news for the GOP: When asked if, and who, Democrats would support among the Republicans, the majority said yes. Of these, Senator McCain edges out Mayor Giuliani followed, at a distance, by Representative Ron Paul.

Independents: Those who identified with neither major party got to select their preferences among all the GOP and Democratic candidates. Senator Obama was the clear winner here.

The Issues: When asked what “the two most important issues you will consider in determining which candidate to support for president,” survey participants cited the Economy as their most important issue, followed by Health Care Reform and Terrorism/National Security and then Tax Policy. Iraq was on the list, but not as high as in national polls, not suurprising given the subject matter of this blog. When second choices taken into account, the standings don’t change, but the Economy moves even further ahead while Iraq gets closer to the pack. Yet, the comments would indicate that all of these issues matter. As one respondent put it, “So which one do you pick? Holy cow!! Most all of them are crucial.”

My thanks to all of you who participated n this survey. We’ll do at least one more as the vote in California approaches.  These polls may not be scientific, but they’re fun!

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Another Health Care Reform Disconnect (collect them all)

Posted by Alan on January 7, 2008

Dealing with health care reform does strange things to people, especially to politicians. Regardless of party. For example, it’s not uncommon to hear Democrats bemoan President George W. Bush’s veto of the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP) expansion and criticize California lawmakers for cutting back on health services to balance the current (now severely out-of-balance) state budget, while at the same time proclaiming that the way to improve health care is to turn it all over to the government to handle. That this is the same government that vetoes SCHIP and cuts health services doesn’t seem to faze them. Maybe I’m missing something, but isn’t this a serious disconnect between reality and theory? 

The GOP can disconnect principles from proposals, too. There are Republicans who frequently call for letting the states chart their own course on issue after issue, but who also propose doing away with a state’s ability to regulate the health insurance carriers and HMOs selling to its citizens.

I was chastised by a reader for an earlier post that discussed GOP lawmakers taking themselves out of California’s health care reform debate by refusing to consider any tax increases under any circumstances. “Since you are not a Republican, do not waste your time trying to think like one,” wrote Tom Johnston. A fair point and a kindly phrased suggestion, concerning those he could have made.

So I know I’m on thin ice here, but …. If it’s inappropriate for the federal government to tread on a state’s rights, isn’t it just as wrong for it to empower other states to intrude on those rights? If New Hampshire has one regulatory scheme, should health plans be able to sidestep it by filing in Wyoming? Won’t this jurisdiction shopping process simply lead to carriers filing in the state with the most industry friendly regulation? If regulations in a state are too severe, shouldn’t the voters of that state demand changes, not have it thrust upon them by voters somewhere else?

Yet, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation web site tracking the health plans of presidential candidates, this is exactly what health care reform proposals put forward by former-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Congressman Duncan Hunter and Senator John McCain would do. Of course, they don’t put it this way. Instead it’s couched as “Permit individuals to purchase insurance across state lines.” Or “Promote competition and individual choice of insurance by allowing insurance to be sold across state lines.” Sounds better, but it’s the same result.

Eliminating unnecessary regulation is one way to reduce the overall cost of health insurance. But promoting states’ rights on one hand while eliminating their ability to regulate health insurance plans sold within their borders makes as much sense as condemning how poorly the government deals with health care on one hand while giving it complete control over the entire health care system on the other.

As I said, dealing with health care reform does strange things to people.

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Iowa Speaks!

Posted by Alan on January 4, 2008

The voters of Iowa have spoken. What they have to say may not mean much to you, but they certainly mattered to the candidates who spent months and millions trying to persuade voters not only to support them, but to brave the cold and stand around for hours in dozens of town hall like caucus meetings.

For Senator Barack Obama and former Governor Mike Huckabee it was a good day. Coming in first, by definition, is a good thing.

The key message for Democrats is that their constituency wants change. For Senator John Edwards it had to be frustrating to position yourself as the fighter for change and then to watch Senator Obama claim the change crown. But that’s what happened according to the CNN entrance survey of participants in the Democratic caucuses, 51 percent of those who stated the quality they were most looking for in a candidate was the ability to bring about change voted for Senator Obama. My guess is that Senator Edward’s extreme rhetoric worked against him and for Senator Obama.

Many voters are tired of the attack politics that is business as usual in Washington. It’s one of the reasons Congress is held in even lower esteem than President George W. Bush. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promised to change the tenor of the debate in Washington. They failed.

I believe most Americans want leaders who will build solutions, not tear down opponents. Seeking the mantle of Change Agent in Chief while promising to make Washington even more partisan and vicious, as Senator Edwards did, is counterproductive — at best. All he did was emphasize how much of a change the more open and inclusive style of Senator Obama would be. No wonder Senator Edwards earned only 20 percent of the vote from those whose top concern was bringing about change.

Senator Hillary Clinton had a rough night, too. Now she has to pivot from a campaign based on the inevitability of her nomination to demonstrating that she has the experience to implement the change that Senator Obama promises. Not an easy sell, but her campaign is very capable. It’s far too early to count her out.

By the way, expect both Senators Clinton and Edwards to claim second place. According to CNN, when the dust settles, Senator Edwards will have gotten a few more votes, but Senator Clinton will get 15 delegates to his 14 — compared to Senator Obama’s 16.

When asked by CNN for their top issue, health care was cited by 27 percent of those attending the Democratic caucuses, behind the war in Iraq and the economy (each mentioned by 35 percent of the voters).  Of those citing health care as their top issue, 34 percent said they were voting for Senator Obama, 30 percent for Senator Clinton and 27 percent for Senator Edwards. These numbers are so close it’s unlikely to have made much difference in the outcome. These results also reflect the narrow differences in the health care reform plans offered by the three front runners.

The CNN survey of Republican caucus goers indicate a different dynamic was at work there. First, the candidate leading in national polls, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani didn’t campaign in Iowa. This left the field to former Governors Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee with former Senator Fred Thompson and Senator John McCain fighting it out for a relatively distant third place finish (and it looks like Senator Thompson won the consolation prize by a hair).

The candidates views on God seemed to be the big issue for those showing up at the GOP caucuses. According to the CNN’s entrance poll,  77 percent of those attending the Republican caucus stated that the religious belief of the candidates mattered a great deal (36 percent) or somewhat (31 percent) in their decision. Only 15 percent of Republican caucus participants said the candidate’s religion didn’t matter at all. Of those who said it mattered a great deal, 56 percent said they’d be supporting Governor Huckabee. Only 11 percent said they’d be supporting Governor Romney — the same percentage that professed support for Senators McCain and Thompson.

When it came to specific issues, the top issue for 33 percent of the Republicans was illegal immigration, followed by the economy (26 percent), terrorism (21 percent) and the war in Iraq (17 percent). Health care reform didn’t make the list. A plurality of the voters citing each of these four issues as the most important to them said they’d be supporting Governor Huckabee.

What to make of the Iowa results?

  1. The expectation for Governor Huckabee and Senator Obama going into New Hampshire’s January 8th primary have gone up considerably. And it’s always a bad thing when a candidate fails to meet expectations.
  2. Coming in first in Iowa will give their war chests a nearly immediate infusion of cash (actually, credit card and Paypal donations). The Internet enables candidates to harvest contributions at speeds unfathomable in prior elections. More money will make it a bit easier for them to meet expectations. But as Governor Huckabee demonstrated to Govenor Romney, money doesn’t always translate into votes.
  3. Iowa will become yesterday’s news as soon as the New Hampshire polls close. Whatever happens there will serve as the context for the next news cycle.
  4. Perhaps most meaningful to regular readers of this blog, and as predicted here earlier, health care reform is unlikely to be a decisive factor in the primaries.

Roughly 340,000 residents of Iowa have now shaped the 2008 presidential election (that’s roughly the size of the city of Santa Ana). Now you can, too, by participating in the Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog Unscientific Presidential Survey #1. I hope you’ll take a couple of minutes and participate. 

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