POLITICS
05/16/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Health Care Reform: Democrats Will Be Challenged, Whether They Pass Reform Or Not

For the past month, GOP opponents of health care reform have warned that if Democrats succeed in passing the reform bill, they will pay the price at the polls in 2010.

Of course, if they actually believed that, you'd imagine that they would just quietly allow the Democrats to seal their fate! But that is not what's happening. Instead you have people like Michele Bachmann, at today's Tea Party "Code Red" rally, beseeching Democrats to show courage and kill the bill.

And I suppose, once that's done, Republicans will all praise the wisdom of Democrats and tell their constituents to factor in their willingness to kill off health care reform at the polls in November, right? Ha, ha! No, they'll just spend the rest of the year campaigning against the Democrats on the grounds that they tried to enact health care reform in the first place! Over at The Plum Line, Greg Sargent has a nice catch underscoring this:

Dems are highlighting a very interesting admission made by a GOP House candidate yesterday. Businessman Jim Renacci said on a conference call that his message challenging Dem Rep John Boccieri of Ohio will remain the same no matter how Boccieri votes on the health bill.

That link leads you to this report, from Erin McPike, at Hotline On Call:

Strategists on both sides say the die is already cast in advance of the fall campaign no matter what happens on health care legislation this week. Whether the bill passes or fails, both GOP and Dem strategists say, members have already taken votes that will mark them come Nov.

One senior House Dem leadership aide posited that if the bill fails, Dems will have to pour lots of campaign money into ads explaining the failed legislation so voters understand why they spent so much time working on it, what was good about it and why GOPers are worse for effectively having killed it.

"That's a challenge, and I would expect that some Democrats would have to spend significant sums to explain their first vote," the aide said. "And they'd have to explain why they didn't get the job done, and that's a difficult place to be."

GOP candidates have insisted they will take their opponents to task whether or not Dems vote for the bill. In a conference call Monday, businessman Jim Renacci said his message will remain the same even if his rival, Rep. John Boccieri (D-OH) votes against health care a second time.

So, the bottom line is this: Democrats aren't going to catch a break if they accede to their opponents' demands and drop health care reform. In fact, they face a steeper, more expensive climb during the campaign. They'll also face the wrath of voters inspired by party leaders like Donna Brazile, who has called for primary challenges against any Democrats who aid in the demise of the reform bill.

Elsewhere, Sargent highlights some polling results that basically indicate that voters aren't too clear on what they'll do at the polls if health care passes or not:

MSNBC teases some really interesting numbers from their forthcoming national poll -- numbers that make it pretty damn hard to conclude that passing reform will lead to a widespread political shellacking for Dems:

According to the poll, if their congressman votes with Republicans to defeat the bill, 34% say they would be less likely to re-elect that member, 31% say they would be more likely to vote for him/her, and 34% say it makes no difference.

However, if their congressman votes with Democrats to pass the legislation, 36% say they would be less likely to re-elect that member, 28% say they would be more likely to vote for him/her, and 34% say it makes no difference.

Writes Sargent: "But still, as NBC's GOP pollster indicates in the above link, the bottom line is that there's no national consensus on what Dems should do."

RELATED:
Regardless Of Outcome, Health Care Die Is Cast [Hotline On Call]
Poll Finds That We Have No Idea How Passing Reform Will Impact Dems [The Plum Line]

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