That’s a new car worth of lost benefits for seniors—unless they live in South Florida. Thanks to the infamous “Gator Aid” deal struck behind closed doors in the Senate, seniors in large parts of the Sunshine State would be exempted from these cuts. But those in Rep. Dahlkemper’s district, like most seniors across the other 49 states, wouldn’t be so fortunate.
Earl Pomeroy’s district—the entire state of North Dakota—doesn’t just “lean” Republican. North Dakotans favored Republican candidates by an average of 21 points in the last three presidential elections. Pomeroy doesn’t seem to read the writing on the wall. He told Politico on January 15 that he just wants to see the debate end—“We need to move on.” If Pomeroy doesn’t switch his vote on Obama-care, North Dakota voters will likely give him the chance to move on.
There are other members besides the nine above who would probably vote “no” on Obamacare if they listened to their constituents—members like Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Bill Foster (Ill.), Steve Driehaus (Ohio), Melissa Bean (Ill.), and Steve Kagen (Wis.), all of whom are in highly competitive districts.
Furthermore, other Democrats who have already voted “no” on Obamacare may need their constituents to remind them that now is no time to go wobbly—members like Scott Murphy (N.Y.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), John Adler (N.J.), Collin Peterson (Minn.), and John Barrow (Ga.).
Voters can be quite forgiving of members who go astray but who correct their course in the end. But they have long memories when members go astray at key moments and fail to correct themselves when they have the chance. To survive Election Day, Democratic congressmen in competitive districts need to give voters a reason to forgive, rather than a reason to remember.
Jeffrey H. Anderson, director of the Benjamin Rush Society, was the senior speechwriter for Secretary Mike Leavitt at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Andy Wickersham is a writer and consultant.