Voting booths stand ready in downtown Minneapolis for the opening of early voting in Minnesota, Sept. 20, 2018. Credit: Steve Karnowski | AP

Less than three weeks before Election Day, a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll tells us:

— “A majority of voters — nationally, in battleground areas with competitive elections, and in Florida and Nevada — say health care is “very important” in making their voting decisions for Congress this year, and at least a quarter choose health care as the ‘most important issue,’ topping all other issues. . . .

—”A majority of Florida and Nevada voters say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports maintaining the [Affordable Care Act]’s protections for people with preexisting conditions, making this the most popular candidate position on health care across partisanship in both bellwether states. Slightly more than half of people living in Nevada and Florida say they or someone in their household has a pre-existing condition. . . . Health care is the top issue among Florida voters (26 percent) and among the top issues for Nevada voters (24 percent), along with immigration (23 percent) and the economy and jobs (21 percent).

In addition, health care is among the top issues for women voters regardless of party. The numbers explain why many Republican candidates are furiously — and falsely — denying they ever tried to end protection for preexisting conditions.

The Republican bugaboo about expanding Medicaid really doesn’t resonate with voters, either:

“In Florida, where the Democratic gubernatorial candidate supports Medicaid expansion, majorities of Democratic voters (74 percent) and independent voters (53 percent) say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports expansion, while a majority of Republican voters in the state (52 percent) say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who wants to ‘keep Medicaid as is.’ Overall, a majority of people living in non-expansion states would like to see their state expand Medicaid.”

In one of those non-expansion states, Georgia, Medicaid expansion has become a top issue for the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Stacey Abrams. In Florida, voters prefer Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum over Republican nominee Ron DeSantis when it comes to expanding Medicaid and protecting those with preexisting conditions.

These polling figures suggest that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, blundered when he talked about taking another swing not only at repealing Obamacare but also at cutting Medicaid benefits. Republican governors’ decision to go to court once more to eradicate the Affordable Care Act, including its protections for preexisting conditions, could be the single dumbest political decision of the cycle. GOP lawmakers and apologists seem incapable (so far) of understanding that taking away health care is a loser politically.

Finally, in the aftermath of the confirmation fight over now-Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, women are especially enthusiastic about voting. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports, “The most recent tracking poll, which was conducted during the Senate judiciary hearings on allegations against Justice Kavanaugh’s finds that nearly half of women voters, overall, and women voters in Florida and Nevada are more enthusiastic about voting in this year’s election.” Both Democratic men and women are more enthusiastic about this election than Republican men and women.

Republicans’ views on Medicaid expansion and Obamacare protection for preexisting conditions are so unpopular, you wonder why they stick with them. They no longer care about small government or deficits, so they might as well reverse themselves on health care (just like they did on trade, respect for federal law enforcement, Russia, etc.). For a party without coherent principles, Republicans have irrationally clung to stances that won’t help them at the polls.

Moreover, the most enthusiastic voters (women) are the most favorably inclined to vote for Democrats and think health care (on which they favor Democrats) is the most important issue. If women show up in great numbers, it stands to reason that Republicans will lose big. Next time, the GOP should listen to women, rather than writing them off as paid protesters.

Jennifer Rubin writes reported opinion from a center-right perspective for The Washington Post. Follow her @JRubinBlogger

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