SCHIP Debate Could Resonate in 2008

A new poll finds the debate over the reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) could affect votes in next year’s elections.

  Voters say their Congressional representatives’ positions on SCHIP could affect their choices at the ballot box next year, according to a poll by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation, the Harvard School of Public Health and National Public Radio. Half of those surveyed said that the vote on the reauthorization of SCHIP would play a role in their choice of candidate. If a representative opposed the bill, 35 percent said it would make them less likely to vote for that person, while 14 percent said it would make them more likely to vote for that person.

The study was conducted after the first SCHIP reauthorization bill was vetoed by President Bush Oct. 2. The bill had passed the House on a vote of 265-159, with 45 Republicans supporting it. After a veto override failed, the House passed a second version Thursday on a similar vote.

The poll suggests Republican candidates are most likely to be affected by their SCHIP votes. That’s because while most Republicans in Congress voted against both bills, Republican voters are split in their support of it. Twenty percent of GOP voters said a “nay” vote would make them less likely to vote for their representative. About the same percentage say it would make them more likely. Democrats are less likely to be negatively affected by their positions on SCHIP because both Democratic voters and Democrats in Congress are largely in support of both SCHIP reauthorization bills that have been passed by the House.