OPINION | Healthcare vote a political death wish for GOP in 2018
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Tuesday afternoon, Senate Republicans voted to start a debate on their version of a bill that will repeal and replace ObamaCare, or, repeal it only. They actually don’t really know what they voted to start a debate on. Like I stated in my last piece for The Hill: Republicans are clueless when it comes to governing.

What they are good at is proving to voters that they do NOT have the voters’ best interest at heart. Whatever Republicans start debating on this week — repeal and replace or just repeal — it will bring about actual death, not just the political kind, to many Americans who are currently protected through the ObamaCare exchanges or through the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion.  

The House voted on a bill in May that was wildly unpopular, left millions of Americans out in the cold and was so incredibly bad that even President TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midterms Dems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Speier on Trump's desire for military parade: 'We have a Napoleon in the making' MORE called it “mean.” That is saying something! 

Let’s just recap just how politically unpopular the Republicans’ plans on healthcare actually are: 

In a recent USA Today poll, only 12 percent of Americans supported the Senate version of the healthcare bill. ObamaCare has surpassed the 50-percent popularity mark even though Trump became president with the promise to repeal it.  

To put it more starkly, ObamaCare is much more popular than Republican President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants 'lazy' McConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 MORE (R-Ky.) and the Speaker of the House Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 House passes stopgap spending measure with defense money MORE (R-Wis.). 

There are 23 Republicans in Congress who are currently running in districts that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump touts report Warner attempted to talk to dossier author Poll: Nearly half of Iowans wouldn’t vote for Trump in 2020 Rubio on Warner contact with Russian lobbyist: It’s ‘had zero impact on our work’ MORE won in the 2016 election — I say "currently" because, after they see how their constituents will punish those who voted for the House healthcare bill, they may decide to retire.

In fact, not a day after the May House vote on the dismally-unpopular healthcare plan that will strip 23 million Americans of healthcare coverage, the Cook Political Report changed the ratings of 20 of those members who had voted for the GOP plan, moving those ratings in favor of the Democrats. 

There is nothing like the clarity of a vote from your member of Congress to make you understand your elected members’ priorities and the dangerous impact those priorities will have on American families.  

Is there any wonder why there have been massive protests in members’ districts?  Are we surprised that many of these members have cancelled their traditional town halls back home so they can avoid being confronted directly by their voters?  

These are the dangers that House Republicans now face because of their vote back in May to repeal and replace ObamaCare with a bill that will take healthcare away from millions of Americans. 

Senators face the same dangers, but because of the Senate political map Republicans face in 2018, they believe it is more likely that they can maintain control of the Senate than can Republicans in the House. In the Senate, they face only 10 seats that are up for re-election, and only one of those is in a state that Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 election. That prize status goes to Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerHeller campaign slams GOP rival over six-figure nonprofit salary Juan Williams: Help Trump climb down from the wall GOP Senate candidate fundraising lags behind Dems in key races MORE (R-Nev.).

Make no mistake, Heller is already a ripe target for Democrats in Nevada. His vote Tuesday gave his opposition even more material that will underscore just how out of touch he is with the people of Nevada, millions of whom depend on ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion in order to live. It may have even sealed his fate. Don’t plan on coming back to D.C. after November 2018 Senator Heller.

While other Republican senators may feel safe, they shouldn’t (I am looking at you Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Huckabee Sanders: Dems need to decide if they 'hate' Trump 'more than they love this country' Trump spokeswoman fires back at Flake: 'His numbers are in the tank' MORE (R-Ariz.)). This Senate vote will be help Democrats draw a clear contrast for voters between leaders whose priorities will be to protect Americans and their families and those who have chosen to throw their constituents to the wolves the way Heller and Republicans who voted "yes" Tuesday did.

2018 will no doubt be dangerous terrain for Republicans, no matter what any voter map looks like. They are supporting a president that is at a historically-low approval rating only six months into his presidency. Trump is losing independent support at a breakneck pace, and while Republicans still support him overall, those numbers are not what they were on election day. Democrats have also opened up a 16-point lead on the generic congressional ballot for 2018.

In addition, Republicans proved once again Tuesday they are putting party before their duty to protect their constituents. The vote they took paves the way for a bill that will strip anywhere between 13-32 million Americans of their healthcare. More Americans want to see ObamaCare fixed than want to see it repealed, and every version of what Republicans have put forward has been extremely unpopular among the voters. The voting public knows the repercussions could be deadly for millions.

During Tuesday's vote, protesters could be heard chanting “Kill the bill, don’t kill us!” If Republicans insist on passing any version of their dangerous bill, instead of working with Democrats to fix and enhance the Affordable Care Act, Americans may very well vote to repeal and replace Republicans in November 2018.

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.