In stunning proof that a single vote can doom a lawmaker’s career in Washington, a new review of the 2010 healthcare vote found that 13 Democrats lost their reelection last November because they backed President Obama’s health reform bill. What’s more, it put many other Democrats in jeopardy of losing their seats because it automatically cost them six to eight percentage points even before voting started. [See photos of healthcare protests.]
“Democrats paid a substantial price for party unity in the 111th House of Representatives,” said Seth Masket, associate professor of political science at the University of Denver.
He and Steven Greene, of North Carolina State University, teamed to study the impact of the healthcare vote and other major initiatives, such as the TARP vote, on the election results. In a presentation to political scientists in Chicago this month, they found that healthcare was a real killer, but that some of the other key votes also cost Democrats support at the polls.
“This cost at least thirteen House Democrats their jobs,” says Masket, of the healthcare vote. “We find a smaller, but still statistically significant, effect for supporting TARP. The stimulus has a mixed effect, harming Democrats in more conservative districts but possibly helping them in more liberal ones. We found no overall effect for cap-and-trade.”
The 13 ousted Democrats ended up losing by less than 6.6 percent. “These are the members who, according to our findings, would still be in the House of Representatives were it not for their healthcare vote. If all these members had switched their ayes to noes, Republicans would still hold a majority, but only by a margin of 228 to 205 rather than 241 to 192,” the two educators wrote.
They also noted that the healthcare vote impact indicated that voters are watching Washington’s actions more carefully. “The results presented here offer a stark contrast with the conventional wisdom that voters are largely uninterested in individual roll call votes,” they wrote.
Their full survey and list of the 13 healthcare losers can be seen here.