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Breaking Down the Politics of the Budget Bill Breaking Down the Politics of the Budget Bill

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Breaking Down the Politics of the Budget Bill

A majority of Republican Senate candidates broke with Paul Ryan in voting against the compromise.

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Louisiana Senate candidate Bill Cassidy was one of the only red-state Senate candidates to vote for the Ryan-Murray compromise.(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The House overwhelmingly passed the compromise budget authored by Paul Ryan and Patty Murray, 332-94, on Thursday. But while a clear majority of House Republicans backed the legislation, the opposite was true among GOP Senate candidates.

Meanwhile, Democrats facing tough 2014 campaigns were overwhelmingly supportive of the compromise, with only a couple at-risk candidates voting against.

 

Here's a full breakdown of the political implications of the vote:

1) Republican Senate candidates mostly opposed the Ryan-Murray budget.

Despite the budget compromise passing overwhelmingly in the House, more Republican Senate candidates voted against the legislation than supported it. Several of the opponents had primary politics in mind. The three Georgia congressmen running for the Senate have all tried to position themselves to the right, trying to appeal to conservative voters. And Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas just kicked off his long-shot Senate campaign against Sen. John Cornyn.

 

But others thought the conservative vote was smart general-election politics, too. Rep. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, running in a solidly Republican state, cast a no vote—consistent with his record of taking a conservative line, even when it opens him up for Democratic criticism (such as his opposition to the farm bill). And in Montana, Rep. Steve Daines faces no serious primary opposition but joined the conservative wing of the party on the vote regardless.

The two Republican Senate candidates supporting the compromise: Reps. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who has taken heat from his right for being too close to the establishment. Cassidy is running competitively with Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, but he also faces conservative opponent Rob Maness in the all-party primary. Voting for the budget nudges Cassidy's image toward that of a compromiser, as he tries to win middle-of-the-road voters.

2) Most House Republicans facing tough races supported the compromise, with two notable exceptions.

The smart political play for vulnerable House Republicans, based on their votes, was backing the compromise. Of the 14 GOP members on The Cook Political Report's most vulnerable list, only two broke with leadership in opposing the compromise—a sharp contrast from their Senate counterparts.

 

And the two vulnerable Republicans who broke with leadership were notable: Reps. Mike Coffman of Colorado and Joe Heck of Nevada, two GOP incumbents facing serious Democratic challengers and running in suburban, diverse districts around Denver and Las Vegas. These members often take the more "moderate" votes on other issues, but they took the conservative tack with this vote.

3) The smart Democratic political play? Supporting the budget. 

A greater percentage of House Democrats backed the compromise, and that included their high-profile Senate candidates, Reps. Bruce Braley of Iowa and Gary Peters of Michigan. Their respective campaigns will dwell on describing their Republican opponent as the kind of candidate who reject compromise.

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Indeed, of the 25 most vulnerable House Democrats, only one (Rep. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina) opposed the legislation. Even Democrats in deep-red districts, such as Reps. Jim Matheson of Utah and John Barrow of Georgia, voted for it.

One other notable no vote: Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, who is challenging appointed Sen. Brian Schatz from the left in a Democratic primary in Hawaii.

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