Senate Democrats shifted a historically challenging map, defined the issues and have the enthusiasm. Each day this week, Quick Takes will focus on the major trends that have shaped the election. Today’s look: how the GOP lost the health care debate in the off-year.

WE SAID IT EARLY & OFTEN. Republicans lost this issue in March 2017 when their party introduced their latest plan to gut pre-existing conditions and implement an age tax for older Americans and saddle every single Senate candidate with a toxic agenda they’ve struggled to defend.

March 2017 DSCC Memo: The New Healthcare Dynamic: GOP Senate Candidates Own This Plan. “Republican Senate candidates can’t hide from their toxic health care agenda. Regardless of how far this plan makes it through Congress, every Republican Senate candidate will have to answer for a dangerous proposal that puts millions of Americans at risk. Some are already uniquely exposed.”

March 2017 DSCC First Ad of the Cycle: The Price

May 2017 DSCC Memo: Health Care Dynamics Crystalize Against GOP Senators. “Health care is already a dominant issue for voters across the country, and continues to emerge as a defining, overwhelming obstacle for the GOP during the 2018 Senate campaign cycle. As Republicans return home for recess or flee behind closed doors in Washington, our message is simple: GOP Senate candidates cannot hide from their toxic health care agenda, and we look forward to joining with voters to hold them responsible.”

November 2017 DSCC Memo: 2018 Not Shaping Up The Way The GOP Hoped. “The centerpiece of the GOP’s legislative efforts – their toxic health care agenda – is wildly unpopular with voters of every political persuasion. it will be a defining issue of 2018 just as it was last night.”

July 2018 Memo: Data Confirm GOP At Odds With Voters. “A year-and-half of Republicans’ sustained attacks on health care have made it the defining issue of 2018. Here are the key trends observed from a variety of surveys taken over the last 18 months that underscore how the core challenge to GOP Senate candidates 15 weeks out from Election Day remains their deeply unpopular positions on the issue voters continue to say will determine their vote.”

September 2018: GOP Went To Court To Take Away Pre-existing Conditions Coverage & GOP Full-Blown Damage Control. “Every GOP Senate candidate is on the record supporting this lawsuit…These candidates know their health care records are toxic and as HuffPost reported over the weekend, they’re now “scrambling to rewrite their records.” Don’t be fooled by their rhetoric on the campaign trail: they’ve shown time and again that they do not support these protections.

Now: Health Care Dominates. Democrats are addressing voters’ top issue, and forcing Republicans to respond (by out and out lying about their positions more often than not, see below) in an election cycle where they’ve had no consistent message. CNN: “In ads and messaging, Democrats are reminding voters where GOP candidates stood.” A quick look:

Joe Manchin: “Dead Wrong

Heidi Heitkamp: “Denise

Claire McCaskill: “Two Years Ago

Tammy Baldwin “Knock

Jacky Rosen: “Doctor

Kyrsten Sinema: “Affordable

Bottom Line. We’ll quote Washington Post’s Dave Weigel writing in The Trailer: “One of the themes of this newsletter has been that stability is itself a strategy. Democrats, by focusing relentlessly on health care over the daily White House story, have put themselves in a stronger position than Republicans, who seem to be flailing from issue to issue.

6 DAYS OUT: HEALTHCARE IN THE HEADLINES. As we’ve covered: this isn’t the issue they want to be talking about period, let alone in the final sprint.

Washington Post: The Health 202: Arizona’s Senate race illustrates Republicans’ health-care bind. “Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has been relentlessly attacking her opponent, Republican Rep. Martha McSally, over voting for last year’s House GOP health-care bill, which passed the House last summer (a similar measure then failed in the Senate). The House bill didn’t eliminate but did weaken the Affordable Care Act’s protections for Americans with serious preexisting conditions such as cancer or diabetes.”

Huffington Post: Minnesota GOP Senate Candidate Says People With Pre-Existing Conditions Are ‘Wealthier’. “In an update to the health care page on Housley’s website and in a new TV ad, the Republican now says she supports coverage for people with pre-existing conditions but characterizes them as ‘generally older and relatively wealthier.’”

WATCH: MSNBC:Republican Senate Candidates Lie About Health Care Records

HuffPost: Believe Republicans When They Say They’re Coming After Your Health Care

Wall Street Journal: Health Care Politics Hounds Some GOP Candidates

Texas Observer: We Support Pre-Existing Condition Protections, Say Republicans Who’ve Repeatedly Tried to Eliminate Them

Arizona Republic: Rep. Martha McSally: ‘I’m getting my ass kicked’ on vote to repeal ‘Obamacare’

National Journal: Heitkamp, Cramer Talk Health Care in Final Debate

NBC News: As Republicans run on pre-existing conditions, Dems say they’re running from their record

Axios: Republicans hit with pre-existing conditions

Wall Street Journal: Pre-Existing Condition Discord Shows Health Care Still a Hot-Button Issue

New York Times: To Rally Voters, Democrats Focus on Health Care as Their Closing Argument

Vox: Trump’s stunning hypocrisy on preexisting conditions

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial: No, Republicans are not the party of pre-existing condition protection. Never have been.

Cronkite News: U.S. Senate race: Health Care is Top Issue for Sinema

WDAY: “Health Care Proved to be The Hot Topic of The Night”


AZ – In “Arizona Republic Endorses Kyrsten Sinema,” Sinema highlights the newspaper’s historic endorsement, the first time in 30 years it endorsed a Democrat.

MN – Tina Smith details her bipartisan legislative achievements and asks for Minnesotans’ votes in her ad, “Passed.”

MO – Claire McCaskill’s independence on veterans issues, wasteful spending and health care is the focus of her ad, “Works for You.”

TN – In “Action,” Phil Bredesen says actions speak louder than political words, which is why he never hesitated to act and lead as governor.


FL-Tampa Bay Times: One week out, voter turnout tops 3 million in Florida

FL-The Hill: José Andrés endorses Nelson in Florida Senate race

IN-Kokomo Perspective: Voter turnout exploding in Howard County

MI-WZZM: Debbie Stabenow in West Michigan ahead of elections

MO-KFVS: Sen. Claire McCaskill stops in Cape Girardeau

ND-Grand Forks Herald: Burgum, Heitkamp join community members in new Fargo police music video promoting unity

ND-Grand Forks Herald: Heitkamp hosts early voting rally in Grand Forks

PA-Times Herald: Sen. Bob Casey stumps at Norristown union hall for organized labor

TN-Times Gazette: Bredesen touts drug plan, promises moderate approach

TN-Tennessean: Early voting surpasses 1 million in Tennessee as turnout remains at historic level

WI-Journal Sentinel: Joe Biden campaigns for Tammy Baldwin, Tony Evers: ‘We’re in a battle for America’s soul’

WI-News 8000: Sen. Baldwin encourages college students to vote during stop at UW-La Crosse

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