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Kristol: Why Pelosi May Fail

11:47 AM, Nov 2, 2009 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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Answer: the people.

First of all, the new Rasmussen survey finds 42 percent favoring the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats -- down a bit from a week ago. 54 percent of the public is opposed. 23 percent of all voters strongly support the plan, with 44 percent strongly opposed.

Second, there are elections tomorrow. In Virginia and New Jersey, the Democratic candidates for governor will run 15 to 20 points behind Obama's showing a year ago (in 2008 Obama won Virginia by six, New Jersey by 16). This is a pretty stunning one-year swing in two not-insignificant states. And many of the voters who are swinging are similar to voters who live in the competitive congressional districts Democrats picked up in 2006 and 2008.

So Virginia and New Jersey alone could give a fair number of Democratic congressmen reason to pause before they walk the plank in the House for Nancy Pelosi's health care plan.

What could cause the plank to collapse is a Doug Hoffman victory in NY-23.

Obama won NY-23 last year by five points. So in an open seat race this year, a Democrat should have a good shot. Indeed, that's precisely why Obama plucked the popular Republican incumbent from the seat to be his Army secretary -- Rahm thought it was a likely pick-up. Then the task got easier for the Democrat, Bill Owens, thanks to the fiasco of the Scozzafava pick, with all the in-fighting among Republicans that followed, culminating in her dropping out and endorsing the Democrat. So, among other consequences, the de facto Republican candidate has only the Conservative line, with the confusion that may entail for some GOP-inclined voters, and there have been a number of absentee ballots already cast by Republcians for Scozzafava.

If, after all that, Hoffman still beats the Democrat in this Obama+5 district -- and if he does so precisely after running against Owens as a likely rubber-stamp vote for Pelosi on health care and other issues -- doesn't that send a shudder down the spine of all Democrats in competitive districts?

Here in America the people rule.

So, on Wednesday morning, don't at least 40 Democrats march into the Speaker's office and tell her to pull the bill?