ObamaCare: Twenty-One Key Democrats — and Three Things for Them to Consider
Counting the health care votes.
ObamaCare supporters are trying to take encouragement from a new Associated Press survey, which shows that nine of the 39 House Democrats who are in the enviable position of having voted "no" on ObamaCare the first time around have now either "declined to state their positions or [have] said they were undecided about the proposed legislation" this time around. These nine Democrats, on average, represent districts where Democratic presidential candidates have done 11 percentage points worse than the national average over the last three elections, and 35 points worse than in Massachusetts. They are not likely to jump aboard the good ship ObamaCare, which sits ablaze in the water after having been fatally struck by a Scott Brown torpedo.
Nevertheless, five of these members are among the nine Democratic opponents of ObamaCare whom Andy Wickersham and I have previously listed as most needing to have their constituents encourage them to stay the course: Scott Murphy (N.Y.), Michael McMahon (N.Y.), Suzanne Kosmas (Fla.), Glenn Nye (Va.), and the retiring Brian Baird (Wash.). (Rep. Baird, at 53, has many years ahead of him to contribute to American society and will have to decide whether to cast a vote that will benefit his party, or a vote that will benefit this administration — while focusing voters’ wrath even more squarely on his party.) The other four are John Adler (N.J.), Larry Kissel (N.C.), Eric Massa (N.Y.), and Allen Boyd (Fla.).
An even bigger problem for the Democrats than somehow turning these members around is the strong likelihood that many other members are salivating at the thought of switching their votes to "no" and saving their careers. Clark Judge writes, "'Blue Dogs want health care to come up again,” said a long-time veteran of the House in a closed door briefing last Monday. 'So they can vote against it.’”
In addition to Bart Stupak (Mich.), who has said that he won't support the Senate bill as written, of the Democrats who voted "yes" the first time around, nine are perhaps most likely to switch their votes to "no": Tom Perriello (Va.), John Salazar (Colo.), Chris Carney (Pa.), Zack Space (Ohio), Alan Mollohan (W.Va.), Baron Hill (Ind.), Kathleen Dahlkemper (Pa.), Earl Pomeroy (N.D.), and Brad Ellsworth (Ind.), who's now running for the Senate. All nine represent districts where Republican presidential candidates have swept the last three elections. In addition, prior ObamaCare supporters John Spratt (S.C.), Bill Foster (Ill.), and Melissa Bean (Ill.) each represent districts where Republican presidential candidates have won by double-digits in at least two of the last three elections.
Among others, all 21 of these members — most of whom represent solidly red districts, and all of whom represent either red or purple districts — would be well served to think about three things before deciding how they would cast a final vote:
The bill’s unpopularity: Members now face the choice between siding with the 73 percent of Americans who have told CNN that they don't want ObamaCare, or with the 25 percent who have said that they do. In a three-way race in the CNN poll between starting over, giving up, and passing something like the current bills, ObamaCare was routed by 23 percent by start over and finished in a dead-heat with give up. When, after a year of debate, your bill can’t clearly edge give up for the silver, maybe it’s not a good bill.
In poll after poll and in three key elections, the American people have made it abundantly clear that congressional Democrats will either vote to keep health care in the private sector, or the people will vote to return congressional Democrats to the private sector. The notion that passing a highly unpopular bill would somehow assuage the voters — who, in this fantasy, would reward the Democrats for succeeded in doing something, even if that something is what the voters warned them not to do — never passed the sniff test and no longer passes the laugh test. If the Democrats pass ObamaCare at this point, they will get annihilated in 2010 and will invite a similar annihilation in 2012, with the repeal of ObamaCare to follow.