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Q: Will Democrats help or hurt themselves politically if they use the reconciliation process to complete action on health reform?
DEMOCRATS (99 votes)
Help 80 percent Hurt 16 percent
Volunteered: Depends, 2 percent; doesn't matter, 1 percent; can't answer, 1 percent.
"They simply must get health care done, and no one ever lost an election based on parliamentary maneuvering."
"Americans care about results more than process, and Democrats will have a few million more friends immediately and 30 million more in a few years if Congress passes this bill."
"Doesn't COBRA stand for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act? Wasn't that major health care reform done by reconciliation?"
"The most important thing Democrats can do to help themselves is pass the bill and move on to jobs."
"They need to stress that it will be done by majority vote and let the Republicans explain reconciliation!"
"People want us to get something done and stop debating the details. This is a test of leadership, not policy."
"Anything, anything to end the health care debacle."
"Voters don't understand or care very much about process. If they did, we'd be able to tell them that the Republicans are obstructionists in the Senate and they would believe us."
"But only a little. We are sadly long past the point of helping ourselves 'a lot' when it comes to health reform."
"Voters don't understand why a majority is not enough to pass a bill. Hell, the House doesn't understand this and it is only 50 feet away from the Senate!"
"We are the majority party; we need to start acting like it. We can't just blame the Republicans. We must govern."
"You can't come this far and leave such an important accomplishment on the field."
"They need most of all to get the issue behind them ASAP."
"Democrats have not built the case to pass a bill without Republicans. Until that happens, passing one without them will cause continued backlash against Democrats."
"What better proof that Democrats aren't listening?"
"But doing zero is worse."
REPUBLICANS (97 votes)
Help 11 percent Hurt 85 percent
Volunteered: It's a wash, makes no difference, 3 percent; hurt because most Americans hate bill, 1 percent.
"Failure to pass a bill, even a bad one, could cause a total meltdown for their base."
"Spending three or four more months haggling over this debate clearly plays to the Republican advantage."
"It will confirm the public's concerns about extremism and politics-as-usual at any cost. This really smells."
"They will hurt themselves because Republicans will create a campaign of repeal."
"The American people are overwhelmingly opposed to this plan, and if the Democrats push it through despite their strong views, they won't easily forgive them."
"Either way, it's a downer. People will see the arrogance if it passes or incompetence if they fail."
"How many different ways can the Democrats ignore the message being delivered back to them to stop? Steamrolling the process will turn them into the kamikaze Congress!"
"They think it can't get any worse, but passing a bad bill is, indeed, worse than passing nothing at all. Looks like they will learn that the hard way."
"Their base isn't going to save their House majority in November. Only jobs could possibly do that and they are too busy with an unpopular health care bill."
"Continues to build perception that Washington Democrats are out of touch."
"Using a partisan parliamentary maneuver to ram through an unpopular health care bill will not help congressional Democrats attract essential independent voters in November."
"Why push through something everyone hates? Isn't that the definition of the same type of arrogance they accused Republicans of?"
"Using procedure to win will go over just as badly as Louisiana purchases or Cornhusker kickbacks."
"Indies don't agree with what they're doing or how they're doing it."
Q: How many Senate seats will Democrats gain or lose this November?
DEMOCRATS (98 votes)
Average: Democrats lose 5 seats
No Change 0% Lose 1-2 6% Lose 3-4 33% Lose 5-6 41% Lose 7-8 18% Lose 9 1% Lose 10+ 0% (Percent who think Democrats will lose control of Senate)
Volunteered: Lose several, 1 percent.
-1. "Senate seats are expensive, and incumbents have to really screw up to lose their seat."
-2. "And we shouldn't complain about it!"
-3. "It won't be the bloodbath everyone is predicting. Republicans are peaking now, with public opinion poised to swing back as Democrats move on jobs and health care."
-4. "[Sen. Charles] Schumer [of New York] will be majority leader."
-5. "If the president continues to allow the extreme Left to try to oust Democratic incumbents in primaries, the number of losses could grow."
-5. "What should have been a favorable year for Democrats due to the map is now a bust."
-6. "Right now, 2010 looks bad for Democrats but has not reached tsunami level."
-6. "It could be more if they don't come out fighting; and if they take the case to the Republicans, it could be less. Perhaps Obama's folks are starting to realize that, more than ever, the 2010 elections are a dry run to the president's 2012 race."
-7. "We'll be spared going hat in hand to Joe Lieberman [ID-Conn.] by a narrow victory for Barbara Boxer in California, only confirmed after days of counting vote-by-mail ballots."
-8. If [Tommy] Thompson and [George] Pataki enter the Wisconsin and New York races, Republicans have a chance at the majority, but that is probably less than a 15 percent chance."
REPUBLICANS (97 votes)
Average: Democrats lose 7 seats
No Change 0% Lose 1-2 0% Lose 3-4 7% Lose 5-6 40% Lose 7-8 46% Lose 9 1% Lose 10+ 4% (Percent who think Democrats will lose control of Senate)
Volunteered: Depends, 1 percent.
-4. "Harry Reid is very busy creating an impossible electoral environment for himself and a few of his colleagues."
-5. "The [Scott] Brown victory gave them too much warning that the tide has shifted against them."
-5. "Democrats' liberal agenda in Washington wipes out all the recent gains they made in the Mountain West and then some."
-6. "Obama will be a heavy burden in all but the bluest of states."
-6. "Democrats lose Arkansas, Delaware, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, and North Dakota. This goes to seven if [Tommy] Thompson runs in Wisconsin."
-7. "But the number goes to 10 if they push through the massively unpopular health care bill on reconciliation."
-7. "Running the table to get to a majority is very hard to do. Not out of the question, given recent news about [Tommy] Thompson, rumblings in Washington state, and [Barbara] Boxer's bad numbers in California. Still, very hard to do."
-7. "Forty-eight is the perfect number: President still owns horrible jobs numbers; D's own the process; R's can easily block liberal agenda."
-10. "When Barbara Boxer has to look over her shoulder, you know it's going to be a bad year for Democrats. The Beltway is notoriously bad for seeing waves coming until they're under water."
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This article appears in the March 6, 2010, edition of National Journal.