Friday, October 30, 2009

Prediction: Lincoln Will Be In

I'm not a reporter; I only know what I read; I try to stick with things I can say with confidence, but this one is just my logic, and I could certainly be wrong. All that said:

I'm predicting now that Blanch Lincoln will vote yes for cloture on the motion to proceed (if McConnell is foolish enough to force that vote), and will then vote yes on cloture to bring the bill to a final vote.

Here's the logic behind it. Lincoln is in awful shape right now -- she's perhaps the most vulnerable Democrat up for election next year, and her state is increasingly unfriendly to Democrats. Unfortunately for Lincoln, she's in a no-win situation; if she votes with the Democrats in a party-line vote, she'll be attacked as a National Liberal Democrat Commie Pinko Socialist, while if she votes with the Republicans, then her funding and the enthusiasm of her liberal supporters will dry up.

And yet...the real problem, and what I think will be the determining factor for Lincoln, is that she already voted for a health care bill. Unlike the rest of the "maybe" gang (Landrieu, Lieberman, and Ben Nelson), she's on a committee that worked on the bill, and she voted for health care reform at that point. Now, granted, the committee version didn't have the public option, but she has to know that she's going to be attacked for that vote by Republicans in the next election, and she has to know that the attack will be brutal, making no allowance for however she eventually votes on the Senate floor. Moreover, voting with the GOP on the filibuster votes would leave her open to charges of flip-flopping, and of trying to get away with being a liberal in secret (the committee -- no, it's not actually secret, but I'm just anticipating the lines of attack, not whether they are legitimate) and then pretending to be moderate in public.

So far, she's being very cautious, but that's only natural if she eventually plans to vote for cloture. If she intended to vote against cloture, odds are she would have told Reid before he announced his version of the bill, and that she would speak up now in hopes that the public option would be stripped out after all before the bill reached the floor -- since presumably she would vote for a bill without a public option.

Or, just to simplify it further: she voted for the bill without a public option. The public option polls well compared to the rest of the plan. Yes, she voted against the public option (at that point without the opt-out provision) in committee...but is the addition of the (relatively popular) opt out public option really enough to flip her the other way? I don't believe it, and I think she sticks with the Democrats on at least the procedural votes.

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