Going Down Fighting

>> Monday, November 9, 2009

Some times political incumbents lose. Admittedly it doesnt happen often. When it does happen though you generally get a good picture ahead of time. The best evidence is Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. She is, in all likelihood, going to lose. What then is she supposed to do on big votes like health care insurance reform? Her actions represent a general failing on behalf of losing politicians to do the right thing.

Lincoln is especially important in the mad house that is the senate. It now takes 60 votes for anything to move forward due to GOP threatened filibuster. If she was solidly committed to not supporting any GOP filibuster then maybe the GOP wouldnt threaten them as often. Thats a different topic though. The main point is that instead of doing whats right and letting the chips fall where they may Lincoln is running scared. From TPM,

As a rule, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) may not be as ideological as Nelson is. But she's got a problem on her hands right now that Nelson doesn't. She's an unpopular senator in a conservative state and she's up for re-election next year. Unlike Nelson (or Joe Lieberman, who we'll get to momentarily) securing Lincoln's procedural vote is a nuts-and-bolts political problem. How do you get her into a position where she (and the Democratic party) feels her seat isn't particularly imperiled by votes for health care reform. Last week, she met with both Reid and President Obama. Those conversations will surely continue.

The problem is that her seat is in major trouble no matter what she does. Her seat is not in trouble because of health care reform it is in trouble because Arkansas is a very conservative state full of Republicans and right leaning indy's. Her seat is also in trouble because the voters most likely to vote for her are not particularly impressed. PPP tells all,

Among all Democrats her approval is a relatively weak 62%. But among conservative Democrats it's just 45%. While liberal unrest about her actions in Washington has perhaps received more attention her approval with them is 24 points higher, at 69%. Matched against the Republicans Lincoln averages just a 57-25 advantage with the conservative wing of her party, a standing she'll probably need to improve on before next November.

Although the dissatisfaction of liberals within her party may not be as a big of a numerical concern for Lincoln as the conservatives, there are some issues there as well. Her approval rating among voters who think that Obama is doing a good job is just 63% with 21% disapproving and 16% unsure. That failure to win over many of Obama's proponents is an indication that the President's unpopularity in the state can't be held completely responsible for Lincoln's difficulties. She does nevertheless win nearly 80% in the head to heads with the Republicans because she's clearly a more acceptable choice for those voters than the alternative but then the concern in an off year election becomes whether those folks even show up if they're not enthusiastic about casting a vote for Lincoln.

If Lincoln has perhaps seemed indecisive at times you can see why when she has it coming at her from both ends of her party.

You know what does poll well? The Public Option. in that poll we find that

73% of all voters think that private health insurance companies care more about profit than about the health of the patients that they cover. Among Democrats and Independents, that number skyrockets to 86% and 72% respectively.

You know what that sounds like? A winning issue. It sounds like something Senator Lincoln would like to use again and again as she champions health care reform. Yet she has stayed on the fence and concerned that her vote may cost her her job. Yet, isnt reforming health care the right thing to do. Is this something that might actually be worth doing if your going to lose? Yglesis adds,

But perhaps the most convincing thing you could say would be the argument from legacy. A lot of members of congress spent 1993 and ‘94 spiking the Clinton legislative agenda and then went down to defeat in November 1994 anyway. Wouldn’t it make more sense to turn the 111th Congress into a substantive success, hope you can persuade the voters that these are good ideas, and if you fail at least manage to have gone down fighting accomplishing something important?

Its the Deeds derangement syndrome. running away from substantive and good policy out of mistaken belief that people want nothing, i.e. conservatives policy, done. This isnt the case. The polling makes clear that voters find Lincoln ineffective. The point of holding public office is to put in to practice good policy. if your not going to do that what does it matter whether your in the seat or not? If you think your going to lose go down fighting and not dithering.


O-le,O-le, O-le, O-le! O-le, O-le!

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