The only bill that might be more unpopular than the Senate Republicans’ proposal to overhaul the health-care system is the one passed by House Republicans earlier this year. That legislation, a recent analysis determined, is the least popular piece of legislation in at least 30 years — far less popular at passage than the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which it hopes to supplant.
It is not clear how much of that unpopularity stems from the unpopularity of the president who’s halfheartedly championing it. But President Trump is unpopular and he supports the bill and the bill is unpopular, so it’s safe to assume there’s some overlap happening somewhere in that mix.
It seems pretty clear, given all of those unpopular elements, that many Republicans on Capitol Hill are not excited to be talking about the issue. And, thanks to a tool from writer and developer Alex Litel that compiles congressional tweets every day, we can see that lack of excitement in real terms.
The calculus is simple. If an issue benefits one party more than the other, that party will try to bring it up more often. And in tweets since June 27 (when Litel’s tool began compiling data), Democrats in the House and Senate have talked about health care (or “healthcare”) at a much higher percentage than Republicans have.
What’s more, Democrats also often use the term “Trumpcare,” meant as a pejorative that links the health-care policy to the unpopular president.
By contrast, references to “Obamacare” are relatively rare. Republicans once used the term the way Democrats now use “Trumpcare,” but it seems like the effectiveness of doing so may have waned.
Here’s another way of looking at those numbers. The circles below are scaled to the percentage of tweets containing each term on the left. Democrats consistently tweeted the words “health care” more than Republicans did, with that lull at the Fourth of July.
If we break that data out by chamber, we learn a bit more. Democrats on both sides of the Capitol tweet about health care more than Republicans, but House Democrats have done so much more than House Republicans.
Over the June 27 to July 9 period, Democrats sent nearly 10,300 tweets while Republicans sent around 6,800. Twelve percent of the tweets from Democrats mentioned health care (including 20 percent of those from Democratic senators) while only 3.5 percent of the tweets from Republicans did the same (including 6.5 percent of Republican senators).
That suggests that one party wants to talk about the issue more than the other. Which suggests further that it sees a political advantage in doing so.
Polling suggests there’s good reason for Democrats to think that.