In the run-up to the Iowa caucus, various surrogates for Barack Obama’s political opponents attempted to swiftboat him, ostensibly for his refusal to include an insurance mandate in his health care plan. As I said here, the mandate issue was really just a pretext, but it received a lot of play in the establishment media and the blogosphere.
Thus, the Democratic and independent voters who gave Obama his astounding victory did so in the full knowledge that he is against mandates and that his opponents are very much in favor of forcing people to buy health insurance. This suggests to me that rank-and-file voters are considerably less enthusiastic about mandates than are many “progressive” policy wonks.
And consider this:
Nearly a quarter of Democratic caucus-goers interviewed in the entrance poll were under 30 years old, a jump from 2004. Obama got 57 percent of the vote from the under-30 crowd, compared with just 14 percent for 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards and 11 percent for Clinton.
How is this under-30 vote related to the mandate issue? Well, as it happens, it is just these voters who would be ripped off the most by a health insurance mandate. As Betsy McCaughey of the Hudson Institute puts it:
According to the latest Census data, 56% of the uninsured are adults aged 18-34 … mandates would force the young to subsidize the heath tab for the middle-aged generation.
So, is it a concidence that a commanding majority of the young adults who voted in the Democratic caucus voted for the only candidate who won’t make them buy insurance they don’t need? Perhaps, but I think they were telling Clinton and Edwards to take their mandates and shove them.