Opposition to Health Reform Hasn’t Helped Democrats Avoid Tough Races

ABC News' Josh Goldstein reports:

The health care reform law that passed in March has remained one of the most divisive issues of this campaign season. And while most Democrats heralded it as a major achievement and Republicans have pledged to repeal it, the political consequences of voting for the bill are unclear, especially for Democrats in moderate and conservative districts.

A vote against health care reform seems unlikely to protect conservative Democrats from what is expected to be a difficult November.

Thirty-four Democrats voted against the bill and more than half of those – 23 – are now in races ABC considers to be competitive. Twelve of the “no” votes are in races considered toss-ups and one representative, Chet Edwards (D-TX), is in a race that leans toward his Republican opponent, Bill Flores.

“That vote has not become the defining issue of vulnerability,” said Nathan Gonzales, the Political Editor of the Rothenberg Political Report . “The biggest issues are the economy and jobs and the overall direction of the country. People are dissatisfied with the way the country and the economy are headed and are taking it out on the party in power.”

Gonzales cited the house races in North and South Dakota, in which one Democratic representative, Earl Pomeroy, voted for the bill and his colleague to the South, Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, voted against the healthcare bill. Both are now in competitive races.

12 of the “no” votes are in toss-up races, according to ABC News’ October 8 th race ratings.

Additionally, there were nine democrats who voted both for and against health reform at various stages of the lawmaking process. Six of those representatives, two thirds, are in competitive races.

Voting for health reform has not helped democrats either. As of right now, “the public divides evenly between support for and opposition to the health care reform bill, with greater intensity on the opposition side, independents more apt to be opposed, and likely voters likewise more skeptical than the public at large, said Gary Langer, director of Langer Research Associates, a polling provider for ABC News. “It does not look at all like a net vote-getter. But again, it never has.”

Only one House Democrat has produced a political ad touting their vote – Scott Murphy, of New York, one of the Congressmen who voted against an early version of the bill and for the version that became law. Watch his ad HERE.

“It does not matter as to democrats who voted against healthcare as well as those who were for it, because there will be a wave,” according to Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “A wave makes no distinction. In a wave, the only thing that ends up mattering is the letter after your name, d or r. I think the left and right is wrong in that vote would make a difference.”

Sabato included that this November will be a “message sending election, a thumbs up or thumbs down review of President Obama. In fact, even the democrats who voted against healthcare will get identified with Obama just because of the letter. We forget how powerful the letter is because partisans dominate midterm elections.”

Health Care Vote Stats—Democrats 2010 midterms

34 democratic representatives voted against the final healthcare bill in the house

23 of the representatives who voted no on the final healthcare bill are now in competitive races

12 of those representatives are in races considered toss-ups.

1 of those representatives is in a race considered “lean republican”.

4 of those representatives are in races considered “likely democratic”.

6 of those representatives are in races considered “lean democratic.”

9 representatives switched their votes on healthcare between the first vote in November and the second vote in March.

6 of those representatives are in competitive races.

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