A majority of Michigan voters oppose a strict Medicare for All proposal that would eliminate private health insurance, according to a new statewide poll released Thursday ahead of next week's Democratic presidential debates in Detroit.
But the survey of 600 likely Michigan voters shows the government-run single-payer health care proposal is popular among "strong" Democrats and supported by a plurality of voters who "lean" Democratic, pointing to a challenge for presidential candidates attempting to win the primary without hurting their chances in a general election.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is a leading advocate for Medicare for All and championed the proposal in his 2016 presidential campaign when he won Michigan over eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Several other 2020 candidates are backing some form of Medicare for All, but only Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has joined Sanders in clearly calling for a true single-payer system that would eliminate private health insurance.
Sen. Kamala Harris of California supports the concept but has offered conflicting statements on how she would treat private insurers. Others like Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York are calling for a mixed approach that would retain private options.
Sanders' supporters argue he is well-positioned to beat Republican President Donald Trump should he advance to the general election. But on his signature issue, Michigan general election voters oppose the elimination of private health insurance in favor of a Medicare for All program 52%-37%, according to the poll.
Democrats are generally supportive, however, with strong Democrats backing the concept 58%-27% and lean Democrats backing it 48%-37%. Republicans are widely opposed, including 77% of voters who lean GOP and 83% who consider themselves strong Republicans.
Self-described independents, who could play a crucial role in a close general election, oppose the concept 53%-35%. Trump defeated Clinton by 10,704 votes in Michigan in 2016 and opposes Medicare for All.
“Very clearly, independents are not there on Medicare for All,” said pollster Richard Czuba. “More importantly, older voters are not there on Medicare for All, and they are by far the most dependable voters in the system.”
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