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Still More Stem-Cell Politics


How much does it help a candidate to support embryonic stem-cell research funding, or hurt him to oppose it? It’s a tricky question, but my sense has been that it isn’t as powerful an issue as a lot of consultants and journalists think. I’ve had a little back-and-forth with Neil Sinhababu on the issue. Here’s his latest.

It doesn’t matter a great deal, but he is wrong to rely on his commenters by taking Dave Reichert to have flipped to supporting funding since the election. Reichert flipped last year, voting to override the president’s veto with much fanfare.

Sinhababu’s claim that the issue “is roughly on the same level as raising the minimum wage” strikes me as absurd. Let’s take the best case for his side of this argument: Missouri. You can make the case that the cloning/stem-cell issue pushed Democrat Claire McCaskill over the top in the Senate race. (She won narrowly, and a pro-cloning amendment ran a little bit ahead of her.) But McCaskill was cagey about addressing stem cells as a topic, a fact that made its way into the New York Times. She wasn’t shy about talking about the minimum wage. No supporter of a hike was–because it’s a much more powerful, one-sided issue.


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