Critical Condition

Dead-Duck Democrats and Obamacare

Talk continues to simmer about the Democrats possibly using the “reconciliation” process to ram Obamacare through the Senate. There are a myriad of reasons why this likely won’t work in that chamber, including strong public opposition; opposition among the more moderate Democrats’ to such an unconventional and evasive-sounding ploy; and major, major procedural hurdles. But perhaps the primary reason why “reconciliation” is extremely unlikely to work is this: Obamacare would still have to pass the House. 


Back in the fall, the Democrats had almost no margin for error — just two votes – in passing the House version of Obamacare. They’ve since lost two more votes for sure and now have no margin for error. 


Furthermore, as Andy Wickersham and I have noted elsewhere, a host of other Democrats who voted for Obamacare the first time are sitting in red states and looking like dead ducks. Many of them would probably love to have a chance to switch their votes to “no.” These include the following: Tom Perriello (Va.), John Salazar (Colo.), Chris Carney (Pa.), Zack Space (Ohio), Alan Mollohan (W.Va.), John Spratt (S.C.), Bill Foster (Ill.), Melissa Bean (Ill.), Brad Ellsworth (Ind.), and Baron Hill (Ind.).


All ten of these prior supporters of Obamacare represent districts in which Republican presidential candidates have won by double-digits in at least two of the last three elections.


So, to pass the Senate version of Obamacare through the House, the Democrats would clearly have to recruit new supporters from among those who previously opposed the House version. However, as we write,

For an indication of how toxic Obamacare likely seems to these members, consider this:  Of the 39 Democrats who voted no on the House version of Obamacare, all but four represent districts where the average margin between the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates over the last three elections has been at least 30 percentage points worse, from a Democratic perspective, than in Massachusetts.

And now, with Obamacare’s popularity at its nadir, President Obama would like these members to turn a blind eye to what happened in Massachusetts and come aboard.

That’s not remotely likely. But it’s still worth watching the following members with a sharp eye: John Adler (N.J.), Larry Kissel (N.C.), Scott Murphy (N.Y.), Michael McMahon (N.Y.), Eric Massa (N.Y.), Allen Boyd (Fla.), Suzanne Kosmas (Fla.), Glenn Nye (Va.), and the retiring Brian Baird (Wash.).

These are the only nine House Democrats who (A) voted “no” on Obamacare the first time around; (B) opposed the Stupak Amendment, which was designed to prevent public funding of abortions (those who supported Stupak are even less likely to embrace the Senate’s more pro-abortion bill); and (C) represent districts where Democratic presidential candidates have come within even 10 points of victory, on average, over the last three elections.

These members would probably love to hear from their constituents that they made the right call on Obamacare the first time around.

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