Votes For — Or Against — Health Overhaul No Help For Many Dems
Politico: Voting no on the health overhaul helped some Democrats survive last night's Republican onslaught. "Reps. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) and Mike Ross (D-Ark.) are among the 11 Democrats who opposed the bill and survived in a midterm election in which voters identified health care as their second most important issue." But for others, their "no" votes were no help. "Reps. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.), Glenn Nye (D-Va.), Frank Kratovil (D-Md.) and Bobby Bright (D-Ala.) all campaigned on their opposition to the law but won't be returning to Washington in January" (Haberkorn, 11/3).
CNN adds: "Of the 34 Democratic incumbents who voted no to health care reform, sixteen are projected to have lost their seats Tuesday while three are locked in races that are too close to call. Eleven Democratic congressman that voted against party lines when health care reform returned to the House floor on March 21, 2010 have retained their seats. Of the remaining four, Artur Davis (AL-7) unsuccessfully ran for governor and Charlie Melancon (LA-3) lost his bid for U.S. Senate. But Marion Berry (AR-1), and John Tanner (TN-8) escaped election scrutiny and retired" (Stewart, 11/3).
Reuters: Also among the reelection losers who voted against the health overhaul is Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va. (Pelofsky, 11/2).
The Associated Press: Voting for the health law didn't necessarily help moderates, like Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., either. "Blanche Lincoln rose from a congressional aide to Arkansas' senior senator by cutting a path as a centrist who pleased opposing groups on the trickiest of federal issues. That split-the-difference style ultimately led to her downfall." Lincoln didn't stake out her position -- in favor of -- the overhaul until the final days of the Senate debate, angering both liberal groups and conservative opponents of the law. That's "what critics called waffling" (11/2).
Politico, in a separate news brief: Earl Pomeroy, a 9-term North Dakota Democratic House member, also had health law problems. In losing his reelection bid a Republican state representative, "[p]art of Pomeroy's problem was his support for the health care bill: He stood up in a Democratic Caucus meeting and announced he would support the bill, an anecdote that was well-circulated in local North Dakota media (Hunt, 11/2).
NPR: And even President Barack Obama's best campaign efforts couldn't save one Democrat from a conservative district who supported the bill. "Obama caused a lot of head scratching when he went into Virginia's 5th Congressional District to campaign specifically for Rep. Tom Periello, the endangered Democrat. The second guessing will now only increase with the news that Republican Robert Hurt has defeated Periello even after Obama's exertions last week when the president visited Charlottesville, the university town where he did well in 2008" (James, 11/2).
The Hill: But the widespread picking off of overhaul supporters led liberal groups backing the health law to counter that jobs were the reason Democrats lost races, not health care. In a 10:30 p.m. Election Day statement, Families USA executive director Ron Pollack said, "American voters' focus during the elections was overwhelmingly on jobs and the economy, and this will remain the key public concern until the economy substantially improves. As pre-election polls reflect, calls to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are not supported by America's voters - and they certainly were not the motivating factor in the elections" (Pecquet, 11/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.