There was a lot of interest in the last week over which individual members of Congress in vulnerable districts would be given 'permission' to vote against health care and which other ones would have to 'walk the plank' by voting for it. But polls we conducted in a couple of key North Carolina districts last week indicated that Democratic members of Congress may be held responsible for the bill regardless of how they voted for it personally.
In both Bob Etheridge and Heath Shuler's districts we asked whether voters would be more or less likely to vote for their representative if they supported the bill, then whether they would be more or less likely to vote for their representative if the bill passed regardless of how their actual representative voted.
In Etheridge's district 47% of voters said they'd be less likely to vote for him this fall if he supported the bill. And 47% said they'd be less likely to vote for him this fall if the Democrats in Congress passed the bill, regardless of how Etheridge himself voted.
It's a pretty similar story in Shuler's district. 51% of voters said they'd be less likely to vote for him this fall if he was a 'yes' vote.' But 46% also said they'd be less likely to vote for Shuler this fall if the bill passed, whether it did so with his support or not.
If voters are mad about Democrats passing the health care bill, they're likely to take it out on Democratic members of Congress regardless of how they actually voted. The conventional wisdom may be that it was good politics for Democrats to vote no, but they may find an unenthusiastic base and little gratefulness from Republicans and conservative leaning independents since their no votes didn't end up making a difference. I have no doubt the health care bill is unpopular, but I think its political fallout for Democrats is more complicated than saying the ones who voted for it are in big trouble and the ones who voted no are less so.