Massachusetts Senate, and faux opponents of the health care bill

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Jan 05, 2010 at 12:59


A new means of defeating the health insurance bill emerged today.  A new Rasmussen poll shows Republican Scott Brown within 9% of Democrat Martha Coakley in the January 19th special election for Massachusetts Senate.

Previous polls on this campaign showed Coakley ahead by 31 and 26 points, although there has not been a poll since November 8th.  Also, Rasmussen has been a pretty accurate polling firm in past elections.  All of this means that this poll is not to be dismissed until new polling emerges showing Coakley much further ahead.

While poll averaging has about half the error rate of individual polls (more on that later), and thus is far more useful than any individual poll, it is entirely possible that Brown is gaining quickly on Coakley and could actually win the campaign.  Nate Silver puts the odds of a Brown victory at 3-5%.  My own research into 130 "close" (that is, final poll average within 18.50% or less) statewide general election campaigns from 2004-2008 found 4 instances where the final vote margin was off by 8.50% or more from the final poll average.  While that only translates into, at best, a 1.5% chance for a Brown victory, special election polling, like primary polling, can be quite volatile.

Long story short--Brown has a chance, even if only an outside chance.  If Brown wins, he would probably be sworn in on January 21st.  While there is an off-chance the final vote on health care reform will have already taken place by then, odds are that negotiations on the health care bill will still be ongoing.  Given that there is no way Olympia Snowe is going to vote for the bill that comes back from the House-Senate negotiations (that bill will likely be marginally stronger than the Senate bill), a Brown victory would bring a sudden and surprising end to the health care reform legislative process.

Bringing me, at long last, to the title of this post, I will be interested over the next two weeks to see if any of the supposed opponents of the health care bill--whether lefties or teabaggers--actually bother to seize this newfound opportunity to defeat the bill and work for Scott Brown's campaign.

It should be an obvious move for the teabaggers. They are supposedly such a powerful, popular and emerging force, after all.  A Brown win would create a 41st Republican vote would grind virtually the entire Democratic agenda to a halt, too.  And, this is just about the only chance left to defeat death panels, socialized medicine and the like.

For lefties, working for a Republican might be more difficult to swallow.  Then again, I have heard a lot lately about trans-partisan alliances (and hey, I'm involved with one on Bernanke).  Also, this might be the best remaining chance to stop a trillion dollar giveaway to the insurance industry.  And what of all those calls to run primary challenges against Progressives in Congress who vote for the health care bill?  Here is an opportunity to pre-emptively take out an incoming progressive Senator before she even votes for the health care bill.

So, I will be waiting to see if the people who have made the most noise against this bill--mainly teabaggers--actually do anything to seize what is perhaps the last remaining chance to defeat the health care bill.  Personally, I think that people on the left are primarily agitating to improve the bill--an effort which I wholeheartedly endorse--but if you sincerely want the bill defeated, Scott Brown's campaign is your best bet.

Chris Bowers :: Massachusetts Senate, and faux opponents of the health care bill

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straw blogs (4.00 / 3)
if you want the bill defeated SO MUCH that you are willing to trade at least 6 years - and quite easily 12 years, 18 or more - of a Republican in the Senate from Massachusetts for it, then Brown's campaign is a good bet.

everyone who is not a Republican who has ever said anything to indicate they think that would be a good trade, raise your hands.

defeating a Democrat in a Democratic primary is hardly the same thing.

geez.

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.


But it would be the same effect (0.00 / 0)
As running a third-party challenge from the left that has no chance of winning, but may sap enough votes from the Democrat to cause a Republican victory.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
It's not like it makes any difference. (4.00 / 2)
Run a Republican-wannabe against a Republican, watch the Republican win.  Democrats are incapable of learning.  You don't bother running lefty candidates, so you have no real way of knowing how they'll fare in elections.  It's all partisan bullying to push the spoiler meme, and it wore out its effectiveness years ago.

"Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time." -- Harry S. Truman

[ Parent ]
you are absolutely correct (4.00 / 1)
i could have run lefty candidates for every Democratic seat ever but i left them in my other reality and i just couldn't be bothered to go back for them.

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.

[ Parent ]
Be serious for a moment. (0.00 / 0)
When was the last time a truly left-wing candidate was put up against, say, Joe Lieberman or Rahm Emanuel, despite the odds?  I can't recall.

"Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time." -- Harry S. Truman

[ Parent ]
there was Cindy Sheehan (0.00 / 0)
who ran for Pelosi's seat. i don't know if that qualifies as either serious or truly left-wing, though. particularly with "truly left-wing" being something of an eternally debated concept hereabouts (SF i mean). nor what it would signify in any case.

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.

[ Parent ]
True, there was Cindy... (0.00 / 0)
But she ran as an independent with very little support from the left -- and plenty of antipathy from Democrats.  I'm talking about the Democratic Party in general.

"Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time." -- Harry S. Truman

[ Parent ]
seems to depend on the state (0.00 / 0)
right. and i have seen people talk about defeating Blanche Lincoln that way, for example. or about defeating Harry Reid or Ben Nelson, even if that means electing a Republican. i wouldn't shed a tear to see either of those two gone.

i don't know if the assumption that the kind of Democrat those states will elect is no loss is correct. Pryor and Lincoln don't exactly encourage optimism about Arkansas, for instance, but that's a small sample size...

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.


[ Parent ]
Although your tongue (0.00 / 0)
may be firmly planted in your cheek, the additional question to ask is:

Are progressives going to take advantage of the Democratic majorities in the Senate and the House, that will surely evaporate in just 10 months (Nov. 2010), and work with moderates to pass imperfect liberal legislation, or not?


I hope not (4.00 / 3)
But I think the key would be exacting a promise from Brown to vote against any bill. Otherwise he would just become another Joe Lieberman and the bill gets worse.


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Kudos to you, Chris. (0.00 / 0)
You seem to be slowly leading suicidal lefty bloggers back from the brink of insanity...Good luck to you (and us all, actually)!  (This blog post is the best of your attempts at injecting rationality -- not a feature of the Left, as evidenced by postings/comments at least since 2000 -- back into our bloodstream :-))

Why would lefties work for a Republican campaign? (4.00 / 1)
We oppose the far right.  We don't work with it and we certainly don't work for it.  That's the Democrats' inclination.  We'll be more than happy to run lefty candidates and support their campaigns.

"Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time." -- Harry S. Truman

It seems that Chris has joined the Hasmher-bashers (4.00 / 3)
without having the courage to cite her by name, instead resorting to the I-am-vaguely-calling-you-out method he once artfully lampooned.


[ Parent ]
On a second read (4.00 / 1)
I think it's possible he's critiquing the claim that progressives oppose health care reform, or maybe he's criticizing both...it's hard to tell, precisely the problem with vague call-outs.  

[ Parent ]
I've noticed that. (0.00 / 0)
I went back through some of Bowers' entries and I see he engages in a lot of behavior he's taken others to task for.  Hypocrisy isn't a virtue by any means, and it doesn't influence people to do what he wants them to do.

"Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time." -- Harry S. Truman

[ Parent ]
It should be noted that this is Sen. Kennedy's seat (0.00 / 0)
that would be used as the vehicle to defeat this "reform" and the implications that would have in diminishing (or strengthening) Kennedy's legacy of fighting for meaningful health care access for Americans.

John McCain won't insure children

The Best Scenario (4.00 / 2)
is if Martha Coakley commits to joining the republican filibuster to either force some type of Medicare expansion or force the leadership to drop the mandate. The only other alternative is to get rid of as many democratic politicians as possible.

I am totally in favor of health care reform.
I am diametrically opposed to health insurance reform.


I know the health care bill is a done deal (4.00 / 1)
and probably can't be improved either.  I am not supporting a republian.  I support greens and writeins to spoil bad dems.  Yes, in short term republicans will be elected but in the long term bad dems are gone, which is good for us.  I don't accept the two party oligarchy, so this is a silly post.

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Why? (0.00 / 0)
A very different bill passed the House 220-215.

Joe Cao (R, LA) voted for it only after he was sure it would pass.  That reduces the real margin to 219-216.  Robert Wexler vacated his seat, effective yesterday.  That reduces the margin to 218-216.  If unions, for example, can switch one vote to save the quality health plans they negotiated, the bill is a goner.  If one vote that had been convinced that the abortion and birth control limits would be fixed in conference committee bolts, it is dead.

Similarly, one Senator could kill this.

States are at risk of losing billions.  Charlie Rangel said he would fix this.  If not will Rangel and other New Yorkers bolt?

Grijalva has swerved all over the place on this.  He could still kill it.  

This bill is likely but not a sure thing.


[ Parent ]
Pelosi probably had more votes (0.00 / 0)
219-216 is only two over. You can't be one over, as that makes you to vulnerable to sudden surprises. But two is safe enough, and it's likely that was deliberate.

If Pelosi wanted, she could have got nearer 230. She could have twisted arms. But she took enough to pass the bill, and left it at that.

This time, arms will be twisted if necessary. And plenty of Conservadems will embrace the Senate bill, as it's crap and annoys liberals.

The bill may be killable, but it's not as easy to kill as you suggest.

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[ Parent ]
I need more than a 1-day rasmussen poll (4.00 / 1)
to convince me Brown has any chance here.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

a silver lining? (4.00 / 1)
Maybe if Brown wins and stymies the Democratic agenda in the Senate, then Obama and Reid will have no alternative but to go nuclear--  use reconciliation whenever possible, and ditch the filibuster.

I don't even know how to respond to this… (0.00 / 0)
...even if it's meant to be tongue-in-cheek, it's stupid in about twelve different ways. A month or so ago I suggested that running a good but unknown progressive candidate might provide needed name recognition while possibly jumpstarting a career (I'd just seen Milk), and I think it was Paul Rosenberg who reminded OpenLefters that that's precisely how Bernie Sanders (you know him, the guy with no party affiliation) got started. Supporting a Republican candidate to kill the healthcare bill wouldn't just be a textbook case of not-seeing-the-forest-for-the-trees, it'd be downright nihilistic.

Does someone need a nap?

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"Difficult to swallow" - how about a complete and total barf-o-rama? (0.00 / 0)
I am a lesbian living in Massachusetts.  I don't know why on earth I would vote for Scott Brown - opposer not only of my civil rights but promoter of water-boarding.  Let's get real.  It makes no sense to support this guy no matter how much you hate the health care bill.  I wanted Capuano in the primary but I will definitely support a candidate who's not afraid of lesbians or foreign-born to represent me in Washington.

Correction (0.00 / 0)
It makes no sense to support Brown if abortion and torture are your litmus tests (democrats aren't even good on those issues). Supporting a rubber stamp for the status quo makes no sense if you are trying to remake the democratic party. No one wants to admit it, but democratic politicians are going to have to lose elections before heads start rolling.

I am totally in favor of health care reform.
I am diametrically opposed to health insurance reform.


[ Parent ]
Can you site an example? (0.00 / 0)
When did a lousy Democrat's head roll and then a progressive rise up to defeat the Republican who succeeded the lousy Democrat?

[ Parent ]
true so vote third party (0.00 / 0)
not for a candidate that you find more objectiionable.  If you vote for a right winger the centrist will have an excuse to move farther right.

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[ Parent ]
Again, any examples of a progressive getting into office? (0.00 / 0)
Isn't that what we're seeking?  I would really like to know if it's ever worked to vote third party or protest Republican to eventually get a progressive in office.


[ Parent ]
Well Sanders got on office and is not dem (0.00 / 0)
but just aside from that I don't just want to elect progressives.  I also want to purge the democrats of conservatives.  So I aknowledge they probably won't win if I vote third party, but if  a conservadem loses that is a good thing from my perspective, since it makes it unrewarding for the party to support conservadem candidacies.  

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[ Parent ]
I can't see myself standing in the voting booth (0.00 / 0)
casting a vote for a man I know hates me, hates immigrants, wants water-boarding, wants to be part of the Sarah Palin wing of the Republican Party.  That makes no sense.  And I don't think the take-away message for the Democratic Party is "OOPS - guess we'd better tack left."  They just see a more conservative base to play to:  as history in Massachusetts shows us: Michael Dukakis and Paul Tsongas promoted center-right campaigns. John Kerry played to the right in his presidential run.
I just don't think protest votes work.  I'm not sure what does.
Bernie Sanders got his start as the mayor of Burlington, and then became a Congressman. He didn't just catapult his way into a Senatorial seat.  To me that says you have to earn people's trust and work your way up.

This is a shameful entry. (0.00 / 0)
Essentially, you're telling us to support the bad Democrats or the Republican, as though there is really any difference between the two, as the only options we have.  In other words, you're telling us to shut up and quit complaining about the Democrats, because who else is there?  It's disgusting enough coming from Democratic partisans, but even more revolting coming from someone who claims to be progressive.  I'll gladly support any leftist independent who runs in this or any other Congressional race in which no left-wing Democrats are running.  You're not going to limit my options for voting, or who I support in elections generally.

"Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time." -- Harry S. Truman

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