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Opinion: Can Trump make election a verdict on Obamacare?

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(CNN)News headlines suggest this election is largely about sex and emails. These issues matter, they reflect on the character of the presidential rivals. But 48 hours on the campaign trail this week has convinced me that more substantive things are running through the minds of the voters. I had to encourage some Republicans at one Trump rally to talk about the FBI. But people need no encouragement to discuss Obamacare. And I’m hearing it mentioned among nonpolitical Americans in bars and cabs.

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A braver politician would not have tied herself to Obama’s wider legacy. Bernie Sanders said it was insufficiently radical; there was plenty of scope to say that Obamacare was a good idea but deeply flawed. Clinton, perhaps because she has been so closely aligned with health care reform her whole public life, has chosen to defend and expand it. That means she now owns it. And if the voters decide on balance that they don’t like it — which polls suggest is the case — then she’s in trouble.
If Obamacare ends up mattering, then maybe this election is more conventional than we think. The candidates offer standard partisan policies on health care: Democrats favor state regulation, Trump offers a free market approach by, say, allowing people to purchase health care across state lines. Moreover, a dynamic of people passing a verdict on an incumbent President by punishing his chosen successor is as old as the republic itself.
As the polls even up — and they are definitely getting closer — one explanation to entertain is that this election is at some level both typical and mundane. People are voting against the incumbent and for change. No one can deny the role that working-class anger and cultural reaction has played in Trump’s support. But it’s likely that for millions who vote for him, the decision is a rational one that they calculate is best for their family.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/02/opinions/trump-obamacare-stanley/index.html

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