Healthcare debate highlights the split that threatens to paralyze Republicans

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Media Outlet: LA Times

Lee Drutman was interviewed in a recent LA Times article to explain how his voter study offers insight into the complexity of Republican healthcare reform.

What allowed Trump to win and also helped create the Republican majorities in the House and Senate, is the degree of support they got from the roughly 30% of voters who hold conservative views on social issues but relatively liberal ones on the role of government. Those voters, often labeled populists, are typically blue-collar, less affluent and often drawn to Republicans despite the party’s views on economic issues, not because of them.
The fourth group — liberal on social issues, but conservative on economics — has appeal in some elite circles, but is extremely small among ordinary voters, less than 5% of the voters in 2016.
“There are a lot of people who voted Republican because of cultural and identity issues, but who want government programs that help them,” said Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at New America, a Washington-based think tank, who analyzed voting behavior for the study.
The conflicting pressures that those two groups of voters create for Republican elected officials has been a key factor in the legislative stalemate. 
Republican senators such as ones from Ohio, West Virginia, Maine and Nevada who have balked at the Senate bill “have constituents who like these programs,” including Medicaid and parts of the Affordable Care Act, Drutman said. “If they’re taken away, a lot of these voters will be upset.”

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Lee Drutman is a senior fellow in the program on political reform at New America. He is the author of The Business of America is Lobbying (Oxford University Press, 2015).