Senators See Upcoming Vote on Obama—Not Health

Eye constituents' votes in 2008, not polls on health care
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2009 10:18 AM CST

(Newser) – The upcoming Senate debate on health care reform, like the House vote before it, will be more a referendum on President Obama than a reflection of constituents’ concerns, Andrew Gelman, Nate Silver, and Daniel Lee write. What happened in the House is clear: 31 of 39 Democrats who voted no on the bill come from districts that fell to John McCain last year. Though the Senate calculus is trickier, an analysis reveals that it will likely mirror the lower chamber.

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Take Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln, the three write in the New York Times. “Where does she look for her cue?” Her “voters support health care subsidies 6% points more than the national average,” but voted against Obama. “In general, senators seem to be less interested in what their constituents…might think about health care,” they write, “and more interested in how they feel about President Obama.” Which could be to the overall benefit of the legislation—Obama is polling 10 points higher than plans for reform. (Read more Blanche Lincoln stories.)

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