Single Payer in Swing Districts

By Colin Bowers (@colinsonofroy) and Brandon Williams (@bmwilly)

During the last week of September and the first week of October, the New York Times Upshot/Siena polling team asked five districts about their support for a national single payer system via the question “Do you support the creation of a national insurance program, in which every American would get insurance from a single government plan?” Support for single payer outpaced support for the Democratic candidate in all five districts and all five showed net positive support for the policy.


As the chart shows, in the most tightly contested districts, single-payer has net positive support.


As of Monday night, FiveThirtyEight forecasted WA-08, CA-45, and MI-08 as Lean Democratic races and NJ-03 and NE-02 as Toss-Ups. However, unlike NJ-03 where the polling shows a close race, Kara Eastman’s candidacy in the NE-02 has had a consistent run of poor polling. Her race is still considered a toss-up due to strong fundraising. If Eastman does lose, a common narrative will be that she was too progressive for her district. The Upshot/Siena polling shows that narrative to be incorrect. Recent polling in NE-02 shows Eastman to be down in the mid-to-high single digits, consistent with the Upshot/Siena polling from last month. Even trailing by that amount, net support for the single payer in NE-02 is positive and support among independents is nearly 60 percent.


Only 20 percent of Republicans in NE-02 support single payer, but that number is comparable to Republicans in MI-08 and CA-45, where Democrats are favored to win. And we should not ignore that 20 percent of Republicans in a Nebraska congressional district support a single payer health care system! If the next Kara Eastman can get Democratic support among Democratic voters for single payer up to 85 or even 90 percent, then NE-02 could be a Lean Dem district in the future too.

Progressive candidate will win and lose in all sorts of districts for all sorts of reasons. But the progressive movement can never forget that progressive policies are popular. No matter what happens in 2018, we can win everywhere by running on that platform.

Colin Bowers (@colinsonofroy) is a data analyst and engineer with an interest in using data science to advance progressive causes, especially those related to the environment, international affairs, and social justice.

Brandon Williams (@bmwilly) is a data scientist living in Berlin, Germany whose interests include machine learning and prison abolition.

Ethan Winter