Washington (CNN) - National Republicans are touting a primary result in Missouri where voters overwhelmingly rejected a key controversial part of the new health care law. But Democrats downplay the significance of the vote, the first in which the new health care law was on a ballot.
More than 70 percent of Missouri primary voters Tuesday cast ballots in favor of Proposition C. The measure would allow state residents to opt out of mandatory health insurance, a key part of the new health care reform law, which was pushed by President Obama and Congressional Democrats. The proposition prohibits the federal government from requiring people to have health insurance or penalizing them for not having such insurance.
"In a significant blow to the Obama administration, the people of Missouri overwhelmingly struck down a central pillar of ObamaCare by passing a statute that prevents the federal government from requiring individuals to purchase health insurance," says Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, in a statement. "By rejecting ObamaCare with nearly three-quarters of the vote in a critical swing state, Missouri sent a clear message to Democrats and the Obama administration that government-run healthcare is a gross overreach of the federal government that needs to be repealed and replaced."
In a full court press, the top Republicans in the Senate and the House released similar messages.
"All throughout the health care debate, Democrat leaders in Washington told themselves they could do what they want, and then persuade Americans after the fact that it was okay. Last night, the voters in Missouri overwhelmingly rejected that notion. The people of Missouri have sent a message to Washington: enough is enough," says Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
"There is one constant in the story of ObamaCare: the steadfast opposition of the American people to out-of-touch Washington Democrats' plan," adds House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio.
More Republicans than Democrats appear to have voted in Tuesday's primary. According to unofficial results compiled by the Associated Press, 577,612 ballots were cast in the GOP Senate primary, compared to 315,787 cast in the Democratic Senate primary. On Proposition C, 938,782 people voted, with 71 percent in favor of the measure and 29 percent opposed.
Democrats have a very different take on the primary vote.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs Wednesday described the Missouri results as "a vote of no legal significance in the midst of heavy Republican primaries"
"It's essentially meaningless – there was a hotly contested Republican primary, and those voters were the ones voting on this. Also, it has no legal significance – and Democrats didn't pay any attention to it or even run a campaign against it because of it," a Democratic source tells CNN.
Since federal law generally trumps state measures, the fate of Proposition C will most likely be decided in court.
"Ultimately the courts are going to have to decide about states rights and federal authority when it comes to the Obama health care law. For now this is no more than another Republican talking point to use to energize voters for November and to try to keep the Democrats on the defensive," says Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report.
But Republicans say Tuesday's vote is a sign of things to come in the upcoming midterm elections, when the Democrats will try to defend their majorities in both houses of Congress and their lead among governorships.
"Last night's decisive vote against a key provision of ObamaCare, arguably the cornerstone of the Obama presidency, shows how completely detached the Democrat agenda is from the American electorate, and is another reason why Republicans will win back the majority in November," adds Steele.
Americans appear to be divided on the overall law. According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national poll released last week, the public's split on lawmakers should repeal the new law and replace it with new proposals.
–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn
–CNN Congressional Producer Ted Barrett contributed to this report
Updated: 3:21 p.m.
"Republicans will win back the majority in November," adds Steele."
If that happens...
We are building a WALL between our two countries and americans will not be allowed in Canada
We are cutting off your water which means 14 northern states will drink crap.
We are cutting off your oil which for many of you will mean – drill baby drill – spill baby spill!!!
We are cutting off you hydro which means 7 states will have to use candles
We will get out of NORAD and will sign an agreement with China which has better technology and way better products than a republican america.
Mexico is going to be your very best neighbour – only neighbour!
If you didn't want the Government to over reach then why didn't you do something about it when Bush was in office? Solve the problem before it becomes one and we will all be happy. I do not want my tax money going to support any of your states medicaid either.
Well, Missouri-ites, I hope you opt out and aren't allowed to change your mind.
I am guessing Missouri-ites are poorly educated and don't care about their fellow man or woman, old people or kids.
Is Missouri the "Me, me, I, I" state?
So sad. They probably don't believe Obama was born in Hawaii either.
Missouri is really not the brightest of states...
...and speaking of not bright, the whole Bible belt is actually very stupid, and I'm not being condescending, it's just a fact...
...so I really don't think touting Missouri, or any other Bible belt state is a "badge of honor", it's more of an embarrassment to the rest of the US.
So, those of us with health care insurance will continue to subsidize people who do not have insurance. I am always amazed that citizens of this country do not understand that hospitals are required to write off millions of dollars each year to cover the costs associated with uninsured people. Guess who pays for those losses? That's right – you and me. There is no difference between uninsured drivers and uninsured people who refuse to purchase health care insurance. The people who play by the rules, have health insurance and auto insurance pay for the dead beats who don't. Aren't you proud of yourself, Missouri?
In a Republican primary? Why report on this? And only 70%? More Republicans would vote for Obama being born in Kenya than this. Waste of electrons.
Missourians voted Ashcroft for Governor and he messed up the roads for years. Promised the moon and left before the money came in. So the roads never got built, lots of acrimony.
Not exactly the brightest bulbs in the pack.
It's easy to see what side of the issue CNN is on. Just look at the picture you selected of Steele. Looking down as if he is sad about the vote. WRONG! Americans are rejecting Obama all over this Great Country as the Socialist Marxist Liberal that he is. Wake up CNN and cover the real story.
People of Missouri, if you don't have healthcare insurance and get sick I guess you'll being going to the emergency room is that correct? You say the government is overreaching but who do you think pays for your E.R. visit. That would be the American tax payer. Thanks alot freeloaders.
So the next vote is for secession?
I am from Missouri and I am utterly ashamed that I live in such a hate filled bass-ackwards state. Having worked in healthcare all of my life, those of you on the "outside" don't realize that you are paying for all of these people anyway through higher costs which occur due to the "free care" that people without insurance receive. No one thinks they need insurance until they get sick or have an accident, and then it is too late. People have been bankrupted due to one catastrophic illness. Those of you that already have "good" health care, why do you even care??
Bunch of selfish selfish idiots; a little healthcare for all is not a bad thing.
This was a repub primary so no real major blow. Make it a general election issue and lets see what happens
Republicans and pundits are taking about repel Obama health care , SB 1070 , change 14th amendment, reject gay relations ships to distract voters
I am 110% sure republican never touch these issues if they are in power its will back fire they know
They don’t talk about jobs they know they can’t create jobs
Americans need jobs
Waste of time. If the people of Missouri want their unregulated healthcare, let them have it.
Idiots. Why would anyone NOT want to have health insurance? This is a bunch of fear-mongering hate based lunacy.
Then let them not get any help when they need it and spread whatever money that normally would go to the state for health care to other states that accept it. If you choose not to want help from the Government then you wont get it. Simple.
Missouri also voted for slavery, right?
okay , repeal and replace with what????
We are all waiting for an idea from the GOP!
It is easy to be against something but where are the better ideas from this party?
They do not like the label as the party of NO , but the truth hurts and so far they are living up to that moniker.
Reading that bunch of garbage and smarty remarks that the RNC put out for President Obamas birthday... one thing ran through my mind and I believe it to be true. BOY...ARE YOU REPUBS RUNNING SCARED. When are you going to grow up and show a little dignity, intellegence and integrity. Sorry, I forgot for a moment who you were!
It was a 100 degrees yesterday in Missouri. Many voters stayed home.
I was voter #59 at a voting station at 6pm. Normally in an election there are 59 in line at a time. Not 59 by the time 90% of the voting day is gone.
This was not a truly representative poll.
On the democratic side there were no real races. On the repub. side there many races involving tea partiers against the usual party hacks. So proportionately more of them showed up.
Plus I am not sure the issue was clearly stated. No-one really campaigned for it. But many groups especially the repubs and tea partiers made a big deal out of campaigning against it.
Wow, a good republican't turnout for a red state, who would have imagined! Oh and turning down 'Obama care" in a red state, I never thought I would see the day! I find it funny that in every state in the union you have to provide car insurance, which cost significantly more, yet when you are required to get health insurance there is a big uproar! No one is proposing eliminating required auto insurance. Why? Because it is for the greater good of the public.
This stupid measure does not have any legs because federal law trumps state law. They will have to get health insurance of some kind just like getting auto insurance. Deal with it Missou!!
Nice try Missourians... but it's no more valid than if you passed a law opting out of the requirement to purchase auto insurance...
Federal law ALWAYS trumps state law... And that is how it should be – otherwise we'd be 50 countries instead of one..
The mandate is an important part of getting everyone covered, and in bringing down the costs... Get used to it.
Sorry to hear this. Selfish motives of people who are pushing this.
Missouri get's free healthcare at tax payers expense.