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Are the Midterms Affecting the Senate?

People tend to imagine that the Democratic senators who are balking on health care are concerned about their reelection. But unlike in the House, where every single incumbent needs to face the voters in 2010, relatively few of the key moderate Democrats are facing their home electorates anytime soon. Ben Nelson isn't up for reelection until 2012. Nor is Kent Conrad. Max Baucus is safe until 2014. And I can't think of any examples of a Democrat suffering for his support of Clinton's health-care plan in the 1996 election. Their foot-dragging is entirely unmoored from electoral concerns.

Conversely, Blanche Lincoln and Evan Bayh, both of whom are actually up for reelection next year, have been relatively quiet on the issue. And Lincoln seems like she might be in real trouble. But they don't appear to see much margin in being loud supporters or opponents of the bill.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 26, 2009; 4:49 PM ET
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The problem is the public option is a game changer, and no one knows if it's going to be part of the bill. Obama seems to be signaling that it won't, but the party base doesn't support reform without it, so it's quite a predicament. In the end I don't see Congress going against the base on something this big.

Posted by: bmull | August 27, 2009 3:28 AM | Report abuse

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