Casey wasn't the only Democrat who bucked his party on Thursday. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., also voted in favor of the Blunt amendment. Retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, was the only Republican who joined Democrats in voting to table the amendment.
Elsewhere, as expected Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., also voted against tabling the amendment after weeks of touting his support for it in his campaign against Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren. The legislation has become a major issue in the race.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's decision to allow a vote on the amendment allows Democrats to have their cake and eat it too. Members of the party looking to shore up their moderate profiles -- Manchin and Casey -- now have some political cover on a social issue that's been receiving a lot more attention in recent weeks. But in states where Democrats are wagering that being aligned with Blunt on the issue is bad politics, they can go on offense.
"Republicans made a very calculated decision to change the focus away from our economic recovery and focus instead on divisive social issues," said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Patty Murray in a release that conveniently makes no mention of the votes of Casey or Manchin.