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The most important number in politics today

44

That's the percentage of independent voters who told Gallup they would advise their Member of Congress to vote against a health care bill while just 22 percent said their elected official should support it, polling that comes in the midst of the House's passage of the legislation over the weekend and the start of deliberations on it in the Senate.

When those independents who are "leaning" toward one position or the other are pushed on the matter, a majority (53 percent) said their Member should vote against a bill while 37 percent said he/she should vote for it.

Those numbers come a week after Democratic gubernatorial candidates in New Jersey and Virginia were badly outpaced by their Republican rivals among independents and less than one year before 258 House Democrats, 19 Senate Democrats and 19 Democratic-held governorships are open.

President Barack Obama, in an interview with ABC's Jake Tapper, ascribed the retreat of independents from the Democratic banner to the high unemployment rate (10.2 percent nationally) and a level of economic uncertainty that has gripped the country since last fall.

Obama's suggested remedy to Democrats' independent problem? "I've said to fellow Democrats let's get the job done on the health care bill that is so important to this country's long-term well-being, [and] we can look back at the end of this year and I think we'll be able to legitimately say that we have had the most productive legislative session at least since 1965," he told Tapper.

The data from Gallup -- the poll was conducted from last Thursday through Sunday -- suggests that passing the health care bill may, in fact, make things worse with Independents rather than better.

Those numbers will go over like a lead balloon for people like Reps. Tom Perriello (Va.), Zack Space (Ohio) and Brad Ellsworth (Ind.) -- House Democrats who voted in favor of the bill but represent districts carried by Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in 2008. And, it may make them less willing to vote for the bill when -- and if -- it passes the Senate and emerges from a conference committee.

The numbers are also sure to affirm doubts already harbored by the likes of Sens. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and Evan Bayh (Ind.) -- both of whom are up for re-election in 2010 -- and Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.) who will seek a third term in 2012.

We continue to believe that Obama has one political ace up his sleeve in the health care debate: a Rose Garden signing ceremony. If congressional Democrats can get something to the president's desk that he can sign, there will be huge amount of attention -- much of it positive -- for the reforms put in place by the health care bill.

That PR blitz could well change independents' tune on the legislation although Republicans will work hard to ensure that their case on the problems with the bill is made to voters too.

Still, at the moment, voting for the bill seems to be a riskier proposition than voting against it -- particularly among independents.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 10, 2009; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Most Important Number  
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Comments

So, we have this sweeping mandate for change, fueled by independents, in November 2008, and now that we have actually come to the bridge, they decide to wimp out because they've been besieged by streaming video of a small group of bullies at their petulant worst. Why am I not surprised? Independents stand for nothing and are easily swayed; now they are becoming willing accomplices to the health care cartel, acting solely out of fear that the shrieking faces they see in the town hall meetings will be swarming outside their doors with torches and pitchforks the night after this legislation passes.

In the future, when you read the countless sob stories about people who lost their health insurance when they lost their jobs, or who are denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions -- you know, those stories which the MSM eats up and loves to dispense as proof that America doesn't care and is going to hell -- remember to ask those people where they were when we had the chance to pass health care reform to help those people.....and failed.

Posted by: GraniteState | November 13, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Liberal Free Lunchers throughout history:

Income tax, it will never be more than 1%.
Withholding, it’s for YOUR convenience
Let’s tax
Let’s spend.
Rinse and Repeat
Let’s spend even though we nothing to spend
Rinse and Repeat

Posted by: leapin | November 11, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

The public option will not pass. The House has passed it, true. But the senate has 20 working days until break and that ends Obama's dream of socialized medicine for 2009. Then on to 2010, when the Senate will pick up working on it. It will be a very hostile environment for liberals who want socialized medicine. Moderate democrats in conservative leaning states & districts will be hard pressed to vote for it and survive politically. Hopefully, they won't vote for it. This will do damage in energizing the democratic base. If they vote for it, their hopes of political survival will be real limited. In the senate, the bill they take up is extremely different than the one that the House passed. The Senate may be able to come together and get a sensible bill passed, however. That is what I'm hoping for. Then it moves to a house/senate conference where they put together a final piece of legislation. Pelosi has been adamant that she will accept nothing less than the public option. I got news for her: if she wants passage of a bill, she will accept less than a public option. So the House has gotten the Public Option through. The Senate will try to put together a bill and pass it in 2010, an election year. If they want passage, they will have to create a more sensible bill than the public option. That's the question now, can the US Senate do it? If they do, then the house/senate conference comes into play. It will be a long & drawn out fight in an election year. It's a tough proposition that anything will pass. Hopefully, the senate comes together to pass something sensible & then this process moves forward. But that i wouldn't count on.

Posted by: reason5 | November 11, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I am an independent, and I am not going to buy insurance. When I came back from Vietnam, I was told I had V.A. benefits. If I need antibiotics, I will go wait all day at a V. A. hospital to get them. Anything else, why worry about it?
It is not as if it is so wonderful living here that I could not bear to leave. So exactly how do they plan to make me buy insurance?

Posted by: rbwinn3 | November 11, 2009 2:15 AM | Report abuse

Conservative Teabaggers throughout history:

1492: You'll pay for thinking the Earth is round!
1543: You'll pay for saying the Earth isn't the center of the Universe!
1692: You'll pay for being a witch!
1776: You'll pay for defying the King!
1861: You'll pay for outlawing slavery!
1920: You'll pay for giving women the right to vote!
1960's: You'll pay for giving blacks equality!
2009: You'll pay for pursuing the mandate you were voted in for!

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | November 11, 2009 2:03 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately Obama is following in the footsteps of most recent presidents in being unaware of in denial that his declining popularity is largely because of disillusionment with his policies. The health care bills being considered in Congress are unduly long, complicated, bureaucratic, while lacking universal health care coverage and affordable health care for all persons, at best there will be limited health care reform.

Obama, as Bush II, has favored Wall Street. His war in Afghanistan is increasingly opposed by most people in this country.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | November 11, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Apparently Zack Space missed your "it's risky" memo, since he's been bombarding my t.v. (I'm not in his district, but am in his state) all week with commercials which make it sound like he single handedly brought HCR through the House (as opposed to being an obstinate tool who was against his own constituents until mere days ago).
So, he's either monumentally stupid (he'll flip later and make these commercials the best weapon for his challengers) or he's made his choice (far more likely).
Come on, Chris, don't make a habit of making me do your research for you.
As for your poll, well, I'm done with polls, endorsements, debates, reports, filibusters, loudmouth "Congressmen" like Joe Wilson, and Boehner, and all the rest.
Enough.
Enough circuses, time for some bread:
Pass the Bill.

Posted by: DAMNEDGENTLEMEN | November 10, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

No, this is a real gallop poll. There is a noticeable trend downward in support by Independents.

But still: most Americans, after months of diligent propaganda, do not oppose the legislation. And this snapshot hardly summarizes the full politics of the vote.

Totally support the comment by theamazingjex, almost wrote exactly the same myself earlier today.

Posted by: nodebris | November 10, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

You forgot to mention the latest Fox/Drudge World fake controversy: Phalin's idiotic "coin" charge.

"In Wisconsin, Palin also expressed fear over the moving of "In God We Trust" to the edge of American coins.

"Who calls a shot like that?" she demanded. "Who makes a decision like that?"

She added: "It's a disturbing trend.""

This is not a snark, She actually said that.

Full HuffPo story:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/09/sarah-palin-suggests-coin_n_350556.html

Posted by: broadwayjoe | November 10, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Surely it is obvious to the Senators that failure to deliver on health care reform will bring a calamitous end to the "Obama Spring" of 2009. If the GOP tanks roll in to crush the reform movement, despite the memories of Bush 43 still fresh in our minds, it will be a long haul to the next Democratic opportunity to govern. P.S. Women of America: Don't let the abortion rights struggle doom health care. Get your priorities in order.

Posted by: mcknight131 | November 10, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Irrepressible celebrations as Americans head to the streets carrying signs expressing their love of private insurance.

Parents fresh from the funerals of their children dead of treatable ailments their insurance refused to cover.

Hard-working people wiped out by a bout with cancer.

Scrimping and saving elderly now facing retirement in poverty because they got sick.

Don't we just love the free market?

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | November 10, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Cherrypicked anti-BHO poll. Check
Retyping of weekly GOP talking point. Check

But...no "Pawlenty in 2012."

Posted by: broadwayjoe | November 10, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Yeah all over America people are forming human shields to defend the right of their medical insurers to deny them coverage.

Suuuure, Chris.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | November 10, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

FACT: 77 percent of Americans support health care reform.

"More than three out of every four Americans feel it is important to have a "choice" between a government-run health care insurance option and private coverage, according to a public opinion poll released on Thursday.

A new study by SurveyUSA puts support for a public option at a robust 77 percent, one percentage point higher than where it stood in June."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/20/new-poll-77-percent-suppo_n_264375.html

Posted by: broadwayjoe | November 10, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

This is a bogus poll that cannot possibly be squared with another recent poll, oddly not highlighted in this space, that showed 77 percent of Americans SUPPORT health care reform WITH a public option.

Don't let them tell you that water's not wet...or that Americans don't want universal health care of the kind enjoyed by every industrialized nation except ours.

77 is the number.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | November 10, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse

"Still, at the moment, voting for the bill seems to be a riskier proposition than voting against it -- particularly among independents."

That is pretty much the stupidest, most myopic thing you have ever written, Chris. I am sorry if I sound like one of the naysaying brigade who attack you on a regular basis, but come on Chris! How many people in this country want to go out and pull a lever right now for a Democrat who votes against healthcare reform? You are missing the forest for the trees man. If this reform fails those blue dogs are TOAST.

Posted by: theamazingjex | November 10, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

I am on the edge of my seat waiting for the next recipe from NAMBLA. And an update on the local playground scene.

Posted by: snowbama | November 10, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

"G&T: I generally agree with most of your views, but I must say I am tired of hearing about your house in Viet Nam."

What about his Ho, Sheman?.

Posted by: leapin | November 10, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

No one will think badly of congressional health care votes if the economy is humming in 2012. They will care very much if it is not. Humming = small business job growth.
From the AP this morning...


WASHINGTON -- Unemployment likely will remain high for the next several years because the economic recovery won't be strong enough to spur robust hiring, Federal Reserve officials warned today.

The cautionary note struck by the presidents of regional Fed banks in San Francisco and Atlanta were the first public remarks of Fed officials since the government reported last week that the nation's jobless rate bolted to 10.2 percent in October. It marked only the second time in the post-World War II period that the rate surpassed 10 percent.

In separate speeches, Janet Yellen, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and Dennis Lockhart, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, warned that rising unemployment could crimp consumers, restraining the recovery. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity.

"With such a slow rebound, unemployment could well stay high for several years to come," Yellen said. "In other words, our recovery is likely to feel like something well short of good times."

Yellen envisions the shape of the recovery kind of like an "L" with a gradual upward tilt of the base.

Lockhart said "very slow net job gains" may occur "sometime next year."

Troubles in the commercial real estate market and the plight of small businesses also will weigh on the recovery, they said.

Small businesses -- which held up reasonably well in the 2001 recession -- have been clobbered by the downturn, accounting for about 45 percent of net job losses through the end of 2008, Lockhart said. During the last two economic recoveries, small businesses contributed about one-third of net job growth. Lockhart said he doubted that would be the case this time.

That's because many small businesses rely on smaller banks for credit. But troubled commercial real estate loans are concentrated at those banks, hobbling the flow of credit. Lockhart said he is "particularly concerned" about that linkage.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 10, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

The neocom statist has a hard time focusing on what was actually written.It must be from heat related sickness caused by global warming or anything written that get's in the way of his delusion. Gee, who woulda thunk that promises of freebies and spending money that the country doesn't have equates with votes for the free lunch party.

Posted by: leapin | November 10, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Germans pay a 50% income tax, 19% Federal VAT, and $8.20/gallon for gas in support of their health care system. A German suffers a broken arm, and he gets 6 months off, with pay. He gets "stressed out" at work, and he gets a month off, with pay. They have 18 national holidays compared to our 10 national holidays. As for infrastructure, 20% of the autobahn is under construction - and when a segment of that infrastructure is closed for "construction," it's worked for all it's worth - being closed for 2-3 years while they replace a guardrail is NOT at all unusual. Now, THAT'S a work ethic that any non-working, deadbeat of a Democrat would be absolutely proud of!!!

==

If there is a word of truth in there it'd be hard to locate.

Six months to fix a road? You believe that? Then you're an idiot.

Good luck selling Americans on fewer holidays and having to work with a broken arm. Yeah I can really see voters lining up to pull the lever for even less sick time.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | November 10, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Germans pay a 50% income tax, 19% Federal VAT, and $8.20/gallon for gas in support of their health care system. A German suffers a broken arm, and he gets 6 months off, with pay. He gets "stressed out" at work, and he gets a month off, with pay. They have 18 national holidays compared to our 10 national holidays. As for infrastructure, 20% of the autobahn is under construction - and when a segment of that infrastructure is closed for "construction," it's worked for all it's worth - being closed for 2-3 years while they replace a guardrail is NOT at all unusual. Now, THAT'S a work ethic that any non-working, deadbeat of a Democrat would be absolutely proud of!!!

Posted by: leapin | November 10, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Obama is thrilled to put people in jail for not abiding by his Obamacare policies, turning them into felons also takes away these peoples' right to vote.

==

You need to see a shrink.

Bring your toothbrush.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | November 10, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Obama is thrilled to put people in jail for not abiding by his Obamacare policies, turning them into felons also takes away these peoples' right to vote. He kills two birds with one stone, he steals their assets through the IRS and then the strips them of their right to ever vote against him or any other radical democrat in office. A total destructions of our country. He is so gleeful and so happy at what fools we are, lambs not walking but running inside the slaughterhouse to make the sacrifice that only Barrack Hussein Obama can believe in.

Posted by: leapin | November 10, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Health care reform a cruel joke for victims of gov't-enabled silent atrocities -- the same kind of microwave torture inflicted on a deposed banana republic president...

U.S. GOVERNMENT DEPLOYS HARMFUL, SILENT MICROWAVE/LASER DIRECTED ENERGY WEAPONS AGAINST UNJUSTLY 'TARGETED' AMERICANS

• A genocide-politicide hiding in plain sight, enabled by security/military/intel agencies of the federal government -- America's horrific shame.

ATTENTION A.G. HOLDER/POTUS/VPOTUS:

Where is the DOJ Civil Rights Division investigation into the covert deployment of silent, harmful, injury- and illness-inducing, health-degrading, neurologically damaging microwave and laser directed energy weapons systems against unjustly targeted Americans and their families by a Bush-legacy, secretive "multi-agency coordinated action program" that continues to commit civil and human rights violations under Team Obama...

...including government-enabled, warrantless GPS-activated, covert "community stalking" harassment, surreptitious home entries, and domestic terrorism -- a secretive, federally-enabled grassroots Gestapo?

http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america OR http://NowPublic.com/scrivener RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | November 10, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

"I think you are seeing what you want to see. Look at non-partisan breakdowns of the democrats who voted for Clinton's tax package and his crime bill and its correlation to his or her's re-election. The Democrats that opposed both were monolithically re-elected. The ones from swing districts that supported either or both were the ones defeated, especially if they voted for both."

Got data on this?

Posted by: DDAWD | November 10, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Independents include the bulk of folks who used to call themselves Republicans, and who are in no sense a swing vote.

Also in the poll:

55% of respondents think reform would make things better or no different for the country, vs 40% who think it would make things worse.

57% think in would make their own situation better or no different, vs. 36% who think it would be worse.

Americans are split evenly on whether or not they would urge a vote for the bill (difference within the sampling error).

Attitudes are highly partisan, splitting sharply by party.

Remember, this after months of non-stop right-wing propaganda of the most extreme sort.

Posted by: nodebris | November 10, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm not the tiniest bit interested in what a scientific illiterate thinks about addressing global warming.

When Kansas is on the west coast you'll still be denying it.

I hope Texas drowns, all those handguns included.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | November 10, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Goldandtanzanite,

I think you are seeing what you want to see. Look at non-partisan breakdowns of the democrats who voted for Clinton's tax package and his crime bill and its correlation to his or her's re-election. The Democrats that opposed both were monolithically re-elected. The ones from swing districts that supported either or both were the ones defeated, especially if they voted for both. Does this guarantee a Speaker Boehner? No of course not, but to assume voting for Cap and Trade in conservative districts like Chet Edwards' or Zach Space's is going to help them, when they are facing a significantly different electorate this time around is foolhearty at best.

Posted by: TexasProud1 | November 10, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Sigh. Yet another number from a poll which views independents as a monolithic group.

Not a very informative number, I'm afraid. It would have been better to choose any of the other numbers -- for example, decrease in "vote for" from 40% to 29%, increase in "no opinion" from 25% to 33%, 37% of Ds are undecided.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/124202/No-Clear-Mandate-Americans-Healthcare-Reform.aspx

Posted by: mnteng | November 10, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I think this column is making way WAY too big a deal over the political risk of voting for health care. It's only the Republican self-deception machine that sees healthcare as a losing issue.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | November 10, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

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