Washington

Democrats’ Drug Pricing and Medicare Plans Garner Broad Bipartisan Voter Support

Two key planks of Democratic senators’ potential reconciliation deal could provide a midterm boost

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks to reporters following a closed-door lunch with Senate Democrats at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on May 18. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

As Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) works to reach an agreement within his caucus on a reconciliation package that would advance a number of President Joe Biden’s stalled priorities ahead of the midterm elections, some key policy planks that Democrats are said to have already approved are very popular with voters, according to a new Morning Consult/Politico survey.

What voters think about the Democrats’ drug pricing plan
  • Senate Democrats’ reported measure to allow Medicare to negotiate some prescription drug prices is backed by 76% of voters, according to the July 8-10 survey, while plans to place caps on prescription drug price increases and limit out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries to $2,000 annually were supported by 79% and 71% of voters, respectively.
  • While Democratic voters are most likely to support the drug pricing plan, it’s also a big hit with independents and Republicans, with more than 3 in 5 supporting each of the provisions — even though they were clearly framed in the survey wording as Democratic initiatives.
  • The proposal has already been submitted to the Senate parliamentarian to ensure that it qualifies under the byzantine budget rules that dictate whether pieces of legislation are eligible for Senate passage with a simple-majority vote.
Voter sentiment on Democrats’ plan to extend Medicare’s solvency
  • Senate Democrats also reportedly agreed to effectively raise taxes on higher earners in order to generate enough money to allow Medicare to pay 100% of its beneficiaries’ hospital bills until 2031, since the program is set to lose solvency by 2028.
  • This proposal is also quite popular, garnering the support of 67% of voters — including 62% of independents and 53% of Republicans.
Ahead of November, Democrats need all the help they can get

Since taking full control of Congress and the White House in the 2020 elections, Democrats have seen the political environment worsen to such an extent that Biden’s approval rating is now plainly worse than Donald Trump’s was at a similar point in 2018.

While the White House may lament that there is little it can do to address inflation — the most important problem facing voters, according to recent surveys — much of the decline in sentiment toward Biden, especially among his base, can be traced back to the dissolution of the party’s “Build Back Better” agenda in late 2021. 

Since then, the share of Democratic voters who “strongly approve” of Biden’s job performance has dipped into the mid-30s. By comparison, the share of GOP voters who “strongly” approved of Trump’s job performance during his tenure as president only rarely dropped below 50%.

While enacting popular legislation does not ensure success in elections, it’s easier in general to influence supporters than opponents. 

Given internal misgivings about Democrats’ accomplishments over the past 18 months or so, figuring out how to deliver more on initial campaign promises looks to be Democrats’ shortest route to improving their electoral prospects ahead of the coming midterm elections — especially when some of those priorities draw substantial support from the broader electorate.

The latest Morning Consult/Politico survey was conducted July 8-10, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,005 registered U.S. voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Morning Consult