Do Pelosi and the Democrats Have the Health Care Votes? Here’s the Math

Mar 16, 2010 6:26pm

ABC's David Chalian reports: President Obama and Speaker Pelosi (with an apparent assist from Mrs. Kucinich) successfully convinced Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, to change his position and support the Democratic health care reform bill making its way to the finish line in Congress.  It was a mini victory and a demonstration of momentum for Obama and Pelosi. Kucinich’s announcement marks the first previous no vote to publicly declare he is flipping to yes.  But if Speaker Pelosi is to successfully pass the bill, she will need a handful of more members to do the same. And this one didn’t appear to be too easy.  As recently as last week, Kucinich was publicly stating his intention to vote no on the bill.  However, they are only going to get harder to flip from here on out.  Rep. Kucinich represents a district President Obama won with 59% of the vote in 2008 and he is a safe bet for reelection to his seat in 2010.  That is far from the political situation in which most of the members who are being targeted to flip their votes from no to yes find themselves.
If every sitting House Democrat who voted for the health care bill in November, voted for it again this weekend, Nancy Pelosi would have the 216 votes she needs to pass it. However, because of resistance to the Senate bill overall and (for several anti-abortion rights Democrats) specifically its abortion language, Democrats know they will not be able to get all their previous YES votes to vote YES again. So, the game becomes how many previous YES votes can Democratic leaders afford to lose?  The answer to that question is another question, of course.  How many previous NO votes can Democratic leaders definitively flip to YES? You will see below that there is no margin for error.  And this remains somewhat fluid as Pelosi searches for her final handful of votes.  But here is a snapshot of the current landscape. There is a universe of roughly 15 previous YES votes from which Democrats are worried about losing a handful. Right now, it looks like they can afford to lose NO MORE than 7 of these YES votes most of which will come from the Democratic anti-abortion rights crowd. But what about previous YES votes that Democrats need to work to keep YES? The White House and Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill are prepared to lose some of these.  The first six names below are of most concern to the Democratic leadership and most likely to bolt. Stupak
Carney
Rahall
Berry
Driehaus
Arcuri
Dahlkemper
Pomeroy
Ellsworth
Hill
Grijalva
Gutierrez
Owens
Cardoza
Costa Of the 37 currently serving Democratic members of the House who voted NO on health care in November, there is a highly targeted group of 15 that are publicly undecided that Pelosi hopes she flips from NO to YES to make up for any of the above YES defectors. Democrats know they will not be able to flip all 15.  Probably fewer than 10 are willing to flip on the final vote.  The first nine names listed below are the top tier NO-to-YES targets for the Democratic leadership out of this group of 15.  And no Democrat on the Hill seems to think leadership will get all nine of them to flip which is why Democrats are trying to keep their YES defectors above to seven at a maximum. Baird
Gordon
Altmire
Boccieri
Kosmas
Murphy
Markey
Teague
Kucinich
Tanner
Boyd
Matheson
Nye
Barrow
Childers
Davis – TN

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