ThinkProgress

Democrats winning the popular vote won’t be enough to save Americans’ health care from Republicans

Republicans celebrate after one of the many times they passed legislation that would have stripped health care from millions of Americans. (Photo CREDIT: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The 2010 election was a historic disaster for the Democratic Party. Republican House candidates won the national popular vote by 6.8 percentage points and took a commanding majority as a result. It marked the end of President Obama’s legislative agenda and the beginning of an era when Republicans demanded massive concessions just to keep the government open.

Now imagine that 2018 is the mirror image of 2010 — that is, that Democrats win the popular vote by the exact same 6.8 point margin. In this scenario, 2018 may be no less of a disaster for the Democratic Party than 2010. Thanks to gerrymandering and other factors related to redistricting, Democrats probably have to win the House popular vote by seven points in order to gain a bare majority.

Republicans could suffer a crippling loss at the polls, and still walk away with a majority.

Indeed, the system is even more rigged than these numbers suggest. In the Senate, red Wyoming has exactly the same number of senators as blue California, even though California has 68 times as many people as Wyoming. Currently, the 49 senators in the Democratic “minority” represent 40 million more people than the 51 senators in the Republican “majority.” And these numbers will get worse for Democrats unless the GOP is completely wiped out on Election Day.

The mix of states with a Senate race this year is far more Republican than the nation as a whole. Democrats could absolutely trounce Republicans in the national popular vote — potentially by ten points or more — and still lose a seat or two in the Senate.

The implications of this failed democratic system are simply astounding. Remember Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) dramatic vote to save Obamacare and prevent Republicans from stripping health care from tens of millions of Americans?

John McCain is dead. His appointed replacement, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), is a hardline conservative who is more likely to ballet dance onto the Senate floor wearing a leotard and a tutu than he is to vote to save Obamacare. The only reason Republicans haven’t reopened their efforts to strip health care from millions of Americans is that Sen. Doug Jones’ (D-AL) surprising victory over an alleged child molester left the GOP one vote short of what it needed to send a bill to Donald Trump.

But if Republicans hold onto the House and pick up just one seat in the Senate — a plausible outcome if the GOP loses the popular vote by “only” 6.8 points — they will have the votes they need to sentence thousands of Americans with treatable conditions to death.

It’s worth noting that Republicans want to do far more than simply roll back the Affordable Care Act. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that one version of the Republican health plan would cause 24 million people to lose health insurance by 2026. The Trump White House estimated that up to 26 million would lose coverage. One version of Trumpcare would “leave 32 million people without insurance by 2026.”

Yet another version of Trumpcare would phase out the entire Medicaid program — a program that serves 75 million Americans — by placing a cap on Medicaid spending and then lowering the value of that cap over time.

It’s worth noting, moreover, that Republicans largely did not include Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to repeal Medicare and replace it with a voucher system in its 2017 health care bills — but there’s no guarantee that Ryancare won’t make a comeback if Republicans hold on to Congress. Among other things, that plan would more than double seniors’ out of pocket costs, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

So the bottom line is that, millions of Americans’ financial security — and thousands of American lives — will be saved or destroyed tomorrow based on how the nation votes. And a Democratic victory in the popular vote won’t be enough to save these Americans.

If Republicans aren’t utterly humiliated at the polls, they will return to Congress emboldened by the fact that they just escaped political death — and eager to shred America’s social safety net into ribbons.