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- All co-sponsors of a House bill to provide Medicare for all who were on the general election ballot won re-election, including those in swing districts.
- A trusted nonpartisan analysis of House races found just two of these co-sponsors were in their two most competitive categories.
After unexpected election losses, House Democrats have made headlines for internal divisions over how the party should appeal to voters. Moderates warn that supporting progressive policies will lead to more members losing their seats, while progressives say the party’s base should be embraced.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens, said in an interview that House Democrats in swing districts who supported "Medicare for All" won re-election, without exception.
"Every single swing-seat House Democrat who endorsed #MedicareForAll won re-election or is on track to win re-election. Every. Single. One," she tweeted.
Her claim gained traction on Twitter, and a reader asked us to look into it.
Generally, swing seats are competitive House districts that can "swing" between Democratic and Republican control. Different organizations may rate different seats as competitive, but the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan political analysis organization, is a highly regarded and commonly cited source.
In its final Nov. 2 House race ratings, Cook listed 23 swing seats held by Democratic incumbents who were seeking re-election as "toss up" or "leans Democratic." Of those 23, two incumbents - Reps. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania and Peter DeFazio of Oregon - co-sponsored a bill providing Medicare for All. Those two won.
Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign, when we asked for evidence of her claim, provided a longer list of House Democrats that it said were in competitive races. Its list included Reps. Mike Levin and Katie Porter of California, Susan Wild of Pennsylvania and Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona, all co-sponsors of H.R. 1384, the Medicare for All Act of 2019. Levin, Porter and Wild won seats in historically Republican districts in 2018. Kirkpatrick won in 2018 in a district that has historically swung between the parties. But the Cook Report rated Wild's seat "likely Democratic," and the other seats solid Democratic.
We approached the University of Virginia Center for Politics about this claim, and it sent us an analysis of 2018 races, in which political scientist Alan I. Abramowitz found support for Medicare for All was a "vote loser" in U.S. House races.
The Ocasio-Cortez campaign also sent a list of eight members who did not co-sponsor H.R. 1384 and are in competitive districts and lost. It doesn’t directly address the claim we are fact-checking here.
Ocasio-Cortez said that every House Democrat in a swing seat who supports Medicare for All won their race.
Ocasio-Cortez's statement is true as far as it goes, but it leaves a misleading impression. Only two of the 23 Democratic incumbents running for re-election whose races the Cook Political Report rated as "toss-up" or "lean Democratic" had signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.
We rate her statement Mostly True.
The Washington Post, "Centrist House Democrats lash out at liberal colleagues, blame far-left views for costing the party seats," Nov. 5, 2020. Accessed Nov. 10, 2020.
Twitter, @AOC, Nov. 7, 2020.
Cook Political Report, 2020 House Race Ratings, Nov. 2, 2020. Accessed Nov. 9, 2020.
Congress.gov, H.R. 1384, Medicare for All Act of 2019, cosponsors. Accessed Nov. 10, 2020.
The New York Times, House Election Results 2020: Live Map, accessed Nov. 9, 2020.
Email interview, Ivet Contreras, press secretary, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaign, Nov. 10, 2020.
The New York Times, "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Biden’s Win, House Losses, and What’s Next for the Left," Nov. 7, 2020. Accessed Nov. 9, 2020.
Miami Herald, "In Miami’s tightest U.S. House race, Gimenez, Mucarsel-Powell differ sharply on policy," Sept. 9, 2020. Accessed Nov. 11, 2020.
Tucson.com, "In Arizona's CD2, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick takes 'nothing for granted' in challenge from Brandon Martin," Sept. 29, 2020. Accessed Nov. 11, 2020.
The Appeal, "No, defund the police and Medicare for all didn’t lead to Democratic losses in the House," Aidan Smith, Nov. 9, 2020. Accessed Nov. 11, 2020.
AZCentral.com, "Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick co-sponsors Medicare For All bill, appealing to Democratic base," March 6, 2019. Accessed Nov. 11, 2020.
Email interview, David Wasserman, U.S. House editor, Cook Political Report, Nov. 11, 2020.
Email interview, Kyle Kondik, director of communications, University of Virginia Center for Politics, Nov. 11, 2020.
Allentown Morning Call, "Susan Wild, Lisa Scheller debate Israel, anti-Semitism and foreign policy at Jewish Federation forum," Oct. 14, 2020. Accessed Nov. 11, 2020.
Rep. Mike Levin campaign website, "Providing Affordable Healthcare Coverage for All." Accessed Nov. 12, 2020.
Sabato's Crystal Ball, UVA Center for Politics, article, "Medicare for All a Vote Loser in 2018 U.S. House Elections," Alan I. Abramowitz, Nov. 14, 2019.
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