Did healthcare hurt Democrats?
1. A new Kaiser Family Foundation post-election poll suggests that a majority of people who voted on Nov. 2 favor repealing some or all of the health-care legislation passed by the Democratic-controlled Congress and signed into law by President Obama earlier this year.
Fifty-six percent of midterm voters said they wanted to see some or all of the of the law repealed, a number that divided sharply along partisan lines; eight in 10 people who voted for Republican candidates said they favored full or partial repeal, while two-thirds of those who cast votes for Democrats a week ago supported either leaving the law as is or expanding it.
The Kaiser numbers come amid a continued insistence from Republican leaders that one of their top priorities in the coming Congress is to repeal the health-care law or, at the very least, find ways to keep it from being implemented.
Political strategists continue to debate just how much of an impact healthcare had on the 2010 midterms. Republicans insist that health-care was a central piece of their successful argument that change was needed in Washington. That's a position that some Democratic observers also ascribe too, though few do so publicly. The public position is articulated by the Democratic National Committee who, in a memo released just days after the election, argued that health-care was a non-issue in an election dominated by voter unrest regarding the economy.
Both sides will likely see data points in the Kaiser survey that affirm their view. Asked to name what influenced their vote, voters listed health-care fourth (17 percent) behind the economy (29 percent), party preference (25 percent) and the views of the candidates themselves (21 percent).
Among the 17 percent who said that health-care was a major influence on their vote, there was a strong GOP tilt; those voters picked a Republican candidate over a Democratic candidate by 15 points. And, within that same voting bloc, a whopping 56 percent said they had a "very unfavorable" view of the health-care legislation.
So, for those to whom health-care mattered, it was an overwhelmingly negative factor in their vote -- driving them to Republican candidates in hordes.
Whether or not health-care mattered in a meaningful way in the 2010 election -- our sense is that it did -- the coming fight over whether to repeal the law will undoubtedly impact President Obama's reelection race in 2012 and could also influence on how the two parties are perceived after that.
2. Former ambassador Tom Foley (R) conceded the Connecticut governor's race to former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy (D) on Monday, three days after the Associated Press called the race in Malloy's favor.
"Once all of this information was available to me this morning, deciding what to do was easy," Foley said at a Hartford press conference. "I have told my team that I am not going to pursue a legal challenge to exclude photocopied ballots," he added, referring to the use of photocopied ballots in Bridgeport after officials ran out of regular ballots. Foley's camp and the Republican Governors Association had previously expressed concern over the vote-counting process in the city.
The final vote count showed Foley trailing Malloy by more than 5,600 votes out of more than 1.1 million cast.
With Foley's concession, Democrats now control 19 governor's mansions, including Vermont, which the AP has not called but where the Republican nominee has conceded. Republicans control 29 governor's mansions. Rhode Island elected its first independent governor last week, and the race to succeed retiring Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) in Minnesota is likely headed toward a recount.
Also on Monday, two outstanding House races appeared to take one step closer to resolution.
In Virginia, Rep. Gerry Connolly's (D) GOP challenger, Keith Fimian, is expected to announce today that he is conceding the race. The win is a bright spot for Democrats in Virginia; the party lost three seats in the state after making big gains there two years ago. Sources familiar with Fimian's thinking told The Post Monday that the Republican's camp examined the returns and determined there was no path to victory in the race.
Meanwhile, in Washington state, Rep. Rick Larsen (D) fought off a tough challenge from Republican John Koster. The Associated Press called the race late Monday.
3. Virginia Democratic Sen. Jim Webb continues to equivocate about running for reelection, just four years removed from his upset victory over Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) in the 2006 election.
Webb told RealClearPolitics.com that he hasn't decided whether he's going to run again. "Still sorting that out," he said. "I'm not saying I'm not."
The Fix reported a few weeks back that Webb raised a minuscule $16,000 in the third quarter -- not the kind of fundraising Democratic leaders want from one of their most vulnerable members. Webb's office said at the time that he had yet to "announce" his 2012 intentions.
The new Webb comments suggest a man who is genuinely wrestling with that decision. In the RealClearPolitics piece, Webb, a former Navy secretary under President Reagan, expressed dismay with the direction of the Democratic Party.
Webb's possible GOP opponents include Allen and Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart. If Webb retires, the GOP's chances of winning the seat increase substantially unless current Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine can be persuaded to run.
Webb's seat ranked fifth on The Fix's inaugural Line of the top 10 Senate seats most likely to flip control in 2012.
4. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) made his bid for minority whip official Monday afternoon, making the announcement via what is apparently all the rage among House Democratic these days -- Twitter.
"I am running for Democratic Whip in order to defend Dem accomplishments, unify our Caucus & begin the hard work of winning back the majority," Hoyer tweeted.
Hoyer appears to be the favorite over current House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), who announced his bid late last week.
With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) expected to stay as on as minority leader, Clyburn and Hoyer are caught in a game of musical chairs for the second-ranking slot.
Earlier Monday, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) suggested that Hoyer and Clyburn abandon their bids for minority whip and instead serve as co-chairmen of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, succeeding outgoing chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). That scenario appears very unlikely, however.
5. Former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) suggested Monday that he may run for president in 2012.
Appearing on ABC's "Topline" web program, Pataki said he would step forward if the other candidates in the race didn't meet a certain standard.
"What I'm going to be looking at is: Do we have the right people out there who have that experience, who have experienced leadership, who have been challenged and who can bring people together," Pataki said. "Not just Republicans and conservatives, but conservatives [and] Democrats. And make a decision on who else is out there, and whether or not they have those characteristics we need to be able to win this election and govern successfully."
Pataki declined to run against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) this cycle, opting instead to focus his energies on the repeal of the Democratic health care bill.
To that end, Pataki launched the Revere America PAC, which spent more than $2.5 million this year - mostly on a pair of House races in New York and another pair in New Hampshire.
Pataki is not considered a top-tier potential 2012 GOP candidate, but he does have a record of winning elections in a tough state, winning three terms in blue New York.
With Felicia Sonmez and Aaron Blake
| November 9, 2010; 7:45 AM ET
Categories: Morning Fix
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