Me on the 2010 Midterms

So, after listening to all the ridiculous media coverage suggesting that the health care vote was going to cost Democrats seats in November, I decided to set the record straight– at least for readers in the Raleigh area.  Here’s my Op-Ed in today’s N&O.  A snippet below:

Political science research on midterm elections suggests, however, that although Democrats will almost surely lose a substantial number of seats in the House of Representatives come November, the vote on health care will have little, if anything, to do with that…

In 2010, Democrats are doubly vulnerable, as they picked up a significant number of normally Republican-leaning seats in both 2006 and 2008. Only once in the 20th century did one party gain House seats three elections in a row. Currently there are over 50 House seats held by Democrats in districts that lean Republican and fewer than 10 seats held by Republicans in districts that lean Democratic. Obviously, this fact alone makes it much easier for Republicans to pick up seats…

We’ve surely all heard too much of the “making legislation is like making sausage” metaphor, but it now proves especially apt, as people really enjoy consuming sausage even if they don’t like to see how it’s made. Despite key health care reforms not kicking until 2014, the Democrats wisely frontloaded the legislation with benefits such as
fixing the Medicare “donut hole,” extending coverage for young adults and ending (or at least intending to end) pre-existing-condition exclusions for children. Thus media coverage will no longer be about the unsavory process, but the more amenable end-result.

When all is said and done on Nov. 2, however many seats Democrats lose – and they will lose many – it would’ve been far worse for them had they failed to
pass health care, not better.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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