While I am spending two weeks working/unwinding in Maine, I thought it might be interesting to informally poll random residents about their perspective on the Senate health care debate, and in particular, the role that their very own Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) played in taking down the Senate leadership’s plan to repeal/replace the Affordable Care Act.  While certainly not empirical, the anecdotal conversations I had with an array of working people – a real estate agent, small business owner, a couple of cashiers, a lawn care professional, lobstermen, and waitresses – surprised me in many respects.
By way of a reminder, Secretary Hillary Clinton won Maine during last year’s presidential election (although Donald Trump did come away with one electoral vote) and Senator Collins consistently polls in the high-60s, so I thought I would hear a lot about how proud they were of her principled stand in the face of intense pressure from her party and the president on this historic vote. 
However, not a single person I spoke to had health insurance due to the Affordable Care Act (or at least wouldn’t admit to it) and several seemed to resent the fact that they thought “poor people” had better coverage than they did, even though Maine did not expand Medicaid.  A couple of them weren’t aware of the details of what Senator Collins did and a couple of others were still strong and vocal supporters of Donald Trump.  Several of them did say something positive about Senator Collins but it was certainly not more than 60 percent of them.  It’s not scientific, and I’m not sure what it means, if anything, but certainly gave me the sense that there is still a lot of anger, ambivalence and disappointment about Washington out there, or at least within a couple square miles of my vacation rental.

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Mike Merola is Founding Partner of Winning Strategies Washington, a DC-based government relations firm, and leads WSW’s health care practice.

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