Monday, July 27, 2009

Silver vs. Barone on the Blue Dog Problem

Michael Barone says that the Blue Dogs are pushing against healthcare because their constituents are against it. Nate Silver says that's counterfactual thinking:
In this poll, 79 percent of liberals agreed with the statement as did 77 percent of Democrats -- not a very big difference. Since almost all liberals are Democrats and about half of all Democrats are liberals, that suggests that support for health care reform among non-liberal Democrats is something like 75 percent.

But suppose that Barone is right, and that health care -- or at least the current Democratic version of it -- indeed is unpopular in these districts.

Well, then, Mr. Blue Dog, you have a problem on your hands.

You're going to lose anyway.

If these voters are not capable of supporting health care, what other planks of the Democratic agenda are they going to support?

The carbon tax? Not rural, energy-intensive districts.

Maybe your constituents liked the bailout? Didn't think so.

Perhaps they're waiting for Obama to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act? Um, probably not.

The fact is, Mr. Blue Dog, there's a good chance that the reason you're in power is because George W. Bush was in power. When Bush was in power, you didn't have to advance your party's own agenda -- you just had to block some of the more unpopular elements of his.

But you don't have that advantage anymore. You're going to have to endure at least two more elections with Obama as your President -- and since the Republican candidates in 2012 are Dopey, Sleazy and Romney, probably four. You're going to start having to find at least a few things to vote for.

And if health care isn't one of them, it's hard to see what else is, at least in your sort of district.

Maybe you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. But the only world in which you are popular enough to get re-elected is one which this bill is popular enough for you to vote for.


This sort of thinking is why we at brs love Nate Silver.

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