The health care vote revisited

I was going to email my co-author in crime, Seth Masket, to see if he thought it was alright to go ahead and blog about our MPSA paper.  Instead, I went to his blog and learned that the answer is yes.  Works for me, here’s Seth:

We’ve put this research together into a paper that we’re presenting this weekend at MPSA.

For the paper, we look at the impact of four roll call votes: health reform, the stimulus, cap-and-trade, and the TARP bailout from 2008. We find that a vote for health reform was very costly for Democrats, reducing reelection margins by six to eight percentage points. This cost at least thirteen House Democrats their jobs. We find a smaller, but still statistically significant, effect for supporting TARP. The stimulus has a mixed effect, harming Democrats in more conservative districts but possibly helping them in more liberal ones. We found no overall effect for cap-and-trade.

Here’s my favorite graph from our paper, showing the estimated impact of the health reform vote on Democrats’ likelihood of reelection. The patterns are generated by a logit equation and show how Democrats from a broad range of districts fared in 2010 based on this one roll call vote. For example, in a district where Obama got 40% of the vote in 2008, a Democratic representative would have a 54 percent chance of retaining her seat if she opposed health reform, but only a 19 percent chance if she supported it.

At first, that graph may not look all the dramatic, but you need to consider a vertical line running through the graph at whatever Obama vote percentage you find interesting. There’s a huge amount of space between these two lines on the y-axis representing likihood of reelection.

And, just so we’re absolutely clear, if these results are totally accurate, I still endorse a vote for health reform 100%.  Some votes are worth losing your seat over and I can think of few that would be more worthy.  I think it is genuine shame that our best evidence suggests that this important vote on legislation that will materially improve the lives of millions indeed really cost many Democrats at the polls.  Of course, if I were a Republican, I’d just bury the results.  But us liberals are open-minded.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

2 Responses to The health care vote revisited

  1. jonolan says:

    Why would the GOP bury the results when it shows that even Obama’s cultists were against the abomination that is ObamaCare?

    I, like all Americans, look forward to its destruction and the destruction of any and all who supported it. It is frankly cause for “revolution,” though Americans will most likely handle that at the polls rather than in a more permanent manner.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Revolution? Over giving people health insurance? Don’t pretend to be reasonable or anything. Point was that Republicans would bury results that disagree with their viewpoint, not that they would bury these results.

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