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The Politics Of Compromise


ALBUQUERQUE, NM - NOVEMBER 4: Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.,is one of the few politically vulnerable Democrats who signed a letter protesting President Obama's tax-cut deal.(Photo by David Lienemann/Getty Images)

Vermont Rep. Peter Welch (D) is grabbing headlines Thursday with his letter to speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) opposing Pres. Obama's tax cut compromise framework that garnered signatures from 53 other Democrats.

A close look at who signed the letter, however, backs up something we reported on Wednesday: With a few exceptions, Democrats from competitive districts and who could, therefore, face the biggest repercussions for opposing the deal didn't sign the letter.

That suggests that members with the most skin in the game politically are reluctant to join the loud opposition in the liberal wing of the caucus. It also indicates that the compromise is more popular than originally thought, particularly in swing districts.

Among those who signed the letter, only about 10 would be considered vulnerable in 2012 -- and some only remotely so. The most vulnerable would be Democratic Reps. Martin Heinrich (N.M.), John Yarmuth (Ky.) and Betty Sutton (Ohio). The next wave of less vulnerable Democrats would include Rush Holt (N.J.), Jay Inslee (Wash.), Peter DeFazio (Wash.), Michael Michaud (Maine), David Price (N.C.) and Adam Smith (Wash.).

On top of that, a handful of signees either retired or were defeated this year -- so they don't have to worry about the political repercussions of opposing the framework. Those Democrats include Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.), James Oberstar (Minn.), Alan Grayson (Fla.) and Paul Kanjorski (Pa.).

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