By Tom Curry National affairs writer
updated 1/21/2010 11:55:21 AM ET 2010-01-21T16:55:21

Claim: Massachusetts voters feared a national insurance overhaul would undermine their state's program.

Can lessons of Tuesday's Massachusetts election be nationalized? The state's electorate is atypical: Massachusetts is the only state that has already enacted its own insurance overhaul resulting in near-universal coverage. A Suffolk University poll of 500 Massachusetts registered voters conducted from Jan. 11 to Jan. 13 found that 54 percent supported the state's insurance system, while 36 percent opposed it. Republican Scott Brown did make the argument during the campaign that, "We already have insurance. We have 98 percent of our people insured, so why we would we in fact cut medical -- you know, Medicare half-a-trillion, have longer lines, lesser coverage, subsidize other states? It makes no sense. It's not good for Massachusetts." Was Tuesday's outcome a case of self-interested voters trying to preserve what they had? Was the election not an indicator of national sentiment?

Fact or fiction?
Unclear. There was no exit poll sponsored by news organizations which would have given insight into why voters backed Brown. Some firms did conduct election night telephone polls, but the sample sizes were far smaller than Election Day exit polls and the respondents were people who said they voted, not flesh-and-blood voters. In one poll conducted by Republican firm Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates, 42 percent said their vote was intended to help stop Democrats' insurance overhaul, 31 percent said it was intended to help pass the Democrats' overhaul and 23 percent said health care wasn't a deciding factor. Last week's Suffolk poll showed that 62 percent of Massachusetts voters thought their state's insurance system was unaffordable, despite the fact that many of them support it. Two facts were undisputed: Brown campaigned as the man who'd stop the Democrats' bill, and he won.

Send us a health care claim you'd like to investigate — and check back for your daily dose of reality. E-mail us at, submit your question on Newsvineor tweet @msnbc_health using the tag #doseofreality.

© 2013 Reprints


Discussion comments