Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 16, 2009

THE CONSEQUENCES OF OPPOSING REFORM.... The conventional wisdom last week was that Democratic lawmakers from competitive districts/states would be faced with a difficult challenge: how would they explain their vote in support of health care reform?

The political establishment largely overlooked the obvious inverse -- Americans have been waiting for health care reform for a long time, and there are some Republican lawmakers who'll struggle to explain their opposition to the bill.

Take Rep. Mike Castle (R) of Delaware, for example.

This is one of the more surprising polls I've seen recently: Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, son of the vice president, is leading Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) in a hypothetical 2010 U.S. Senate matchup. The Susquehanna Polling & Research survey has Biden beating Castle by five points. When they polled this race in April, Castle led by 21 points. (This poll was conducted from November 10 to November 15.)

What's responsible for the Biden surge? He's grabbed the lead in vote-rich New Castle County, built up a 41-point lead among Democratic voters, and moved to only 5 points behind Castle among independents. According to the pollster, the shift "may be a result of negative publicity [Castle] received in the state after casting a 'no' vote for President Obama's health care reform bill in the U.S. Congress."

Delaware is fairly "blue" state, but Castle has cultivated, over the course of decades, a reputation as a reasonable moderate. He's never really faced a serious electoral threat, and when he announced his intention to run for the Senate, Castle began the race as the clear frontrunner.

But House Republicans are expected to toe the party line, and Castle has stuck with the GOP, even on odious measures like the Stupak amendment (Castle has always been pro-choice, and surely knows better). It's apparently costing him quite a bit of support.

I don't want to make too much of this. It's only one poll, and it's possible additional data will point in a more ambiguous direction. But if the poll is right, it offers an important counterweight to the notion that support for health care reform is necessarily an electoral loser, and opposition is automatically a ticket to victory.

Steve Benen 3:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (13)

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As a former Delawarian (only lived there for five years, but still), I remember Castle. He was a typical calculating politician, but at least he was on the right side of a lot of important issues. He deserves to be kicked to the curb for this trashy move.

Posted by: Shade Tail on November 16, 2009 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to see the DNC or some independent organization poll Republican congressional districts and ask if that reps no vote would make the voter more likely or less likely to vote for them in 2010.

I think they'd all be in for a little surprise.

Posted by: Gridlock on November 16, 2009 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

We've got a Dem congresswoman here who is facing open revolution because of her no vote on HCR.

Posted by: psinFL on November 16, 2009 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are only nominally pro-choice. It's definitely one issue where a Republican can absolutely under no circumstances vote for a pro-choice bill.

Posted by: inkadu on November 16, 2009 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

How many republican Congressmen are there left in New England again?

Posted by: Patrick on November 16, 2009 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

The media narrative machine is completely broken.

Posted by: inkadu on November 16, 2009 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

What was the GOP/Dem Congressional representation at the beginning of the congressional session? What is it now? After a year of good news for Republicans and tough votes for Democrats, which party is in better shape?

Posted by: danimal on November 16, 2009 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Buying a Stupack will never be the same!

Posted by: Recovering Trollop on November 16, 2009 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Where are you getting this crap. How can HC reform be so popular and desired by the majority of the public be an "electoral loser"?

Are legislators listening to the few thousand loud mouths who showed up at tea bag events to oppose HC reform while ignoring the MILLIONS who refused to come to such gatherings and stand firmly behind HC reform?? Instead of focusing on votes they stand to lose they should be focused on votes they stand to gain when even repub voters and independents overwhelmingly favor reform. The Democratic platform stands for it and we elected a president and majorities in Washington to get it done. The downside is opposing HC reform

Posted by: bjobotts on November 16, 2009 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK
As a former Delawarian
I guess the legislature finally decided on that instead of "Delawarite," huh? I hope someone notified Reverend Jim. Posted by: navamske on November 16, 2009 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

The early Susquehanna poll was probably an outlier. Castle's lead has always been 10% or less has been on the way down for a while.

I'm just hoping this poll will refocus the debate from the DC conventional wisdom that Democrats in conservative districts must vote against health care reform. Perhaps moderates should vote for health care reform instead.

Castle's statement on his vote against health care reform was hilarious, too. It amounted to something like he was committed to health care reform and that's why he's voting against it.

Posted by: Unstable Isotope on November 16, 2009 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Dory on February 20, 2010 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

This is Socialism at its best. Whatever happened to " America Land of the Free? " what will be next?

Posted by: Harry on April 8, 2010 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK
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