Haselswerdt finds states with Medicaid expansion saw higher voter turnout

Jake Haselswerdt

In a new study, Jake Haselswerdt, assistant professor of political science and public affairs, found a correlation between voter turnout and Medicaid expansion, a key component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Haselswerdt examined voter turnout data for all 435 U.S. House races in 2012 and 2014 to see if voting behavior changed between the two elections. He controlled for local factors that are known to affect turnout, such as the number of races on the ballot and the competiveness of the races. He found higher levels of voter participation in 2014 House races where the changes in Medicaid enrollment were the highest.

“I found considerable evidence that at least part of the increase in turnout was the result of new Medicaid recipients turning out to vote,” Haselswerdt said. “Having access to health insurance could play a role in increasing voter participation as healthy people are much more likely to vote than unhealthy people, and insurance increases people’s financial stability, which also makes them more likely to vote.”

However, Haselswerdt notes that the increased turnout could be attributed to a backlash from voters upset by the expansion of the welfare program. He will continue to study the political impacts of Medicaid expansion and the ACA, especially to see if the increase in voter turnout fades or reverses over time.

Read the full MU News Bureau news release, States with Expanded Medicaid Program Saw Higher Voter Turnout.

“Expanding Medicaid, expanding the electorate: the Affordable Care Act’s short-term impact on political participation,” will be published in The Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law.