One of the big questions going into yesterday’s elections was to what extent Democrats in competitive Congressional districts were hurt by votes in favor of the health care law.
While it’s impossible to isolate the effects of that one vote given all the factors that contributed to Democratic losses, an initial analysis suggests that those Democrats in competitive districts who voted against the legislation fared a lot better than those who voted for it.
To get a sense of this, I looked at the 44 Democrats who held seats in districts won by John McCain in 2008 and who were on the ballot yesterday (several others had retired, John Murtha passed away).
To be sure, voting against ObamaCare by no means saved Democrats from defeat. Of the 26 McCain district Democrats who voted against ObamaCare both times, 15 lost compared with 10 who won, with one race yet to be decided (Ben Chandler’s in Kentucky). Yet these results were a lot better than they were for the 18 McCain district Democrats who voted for ObamaCare at least once: 16 lost, compared with just one victory and another race still undecided (Gabby Giffords in Arizona).
Put another way, 40 percent of the Democratic “no” votes in McCain districts won reelection, whereas just 6 percent of “yes” votes were able to survive.
Obviously, a much more thorough analysis is needed to say for sure, and we may never really know, but this analysis suggests that those Democrats who could tout their independence from Obama and the Democratic leadership by voting against the unpopular health care bill had a better chance of withstanding the GOP wave.
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