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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

McIlheran Watch: Affordable Care Act votes and Dems' fates

by folkbum

I am still blessed/cursed with being on Patrick McIlheran's email pimp list, so in my inbox this evening was a preview of his gloaty McGloat-gloat column running tomorrow. It includes this stupid paragraph:
Nothing was so fatal to House Democrats, especially newbies, than to have voted for Obamacare. Dozens fell, including Rep. Steve Kagen (D-Appleton). The one Republican who favored it lost.
The last part of the paragraph is true--Anh Joseph Cao* in Louisiana, an R in a deep blue urban district lost, and Kagen, a D in a district held by Rs for something like 90 of the last 100 years, lost, too. But he blames both losses on votes for a single bill, not the much more weighty evidence of demographics and history. Which is lazy, if not totally stupid. (*Cao did not vote for final passage in March 2010, but he did vote for an earlier version in December 2009.)

What is totally stupid, is the first part--the suggestion that uniformly a vote against the Affordable Care Act was a killer for Democrats. To show the stupidity of that statement, let me offer you some, you know, evidence:
  • Democrats who voted for ACA: 202 (17, including Wisconsin's Dave Obey, retired not counted)
  • Democrats who voted for ACA and lost: About 40 (some races undecided)
  • Pro-ACA losing percentage: 20%
  • Democrats who voted against ACA: 31 (and 3 who retired not counted)
  • Democrats who voted against ACA and lost: 18 (Ben Chandler may lose in KY, but is presently winning)
  • Anti-ACA losing percentage: 58%
Now, clearly, there are demographic and historical factors at play here, too; I mean, Gwen Moore wasn't about to lose to Dan Sebring no matter how many empty commercial buildings and crack houses sported his yard signs, period. Even considering all the flipped house seats--about 65, including three R to D switches--the whole House turnover rate was less than 15% this year, so incumbency, period, is a boon to a electoral chances.

But if we're playing by McIlheran's stupid rules--it's his column I'm playing with, so his rules!--that means it was three times more likely that Democrats opposing the ACA would lose. McIlheran needs to rewrite that first sentence of his, then, to be more accurate: "Nothing was so fatal to House Democrats, especially Blue Dogs, than to have voted against Obamacare."

That's an accurate statement, and much less stupid, based on the facts, than the crap McIlheran is dropping.

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