Up Or Down Vote

by digby

Chris Cilizza asks a good question:

Five Democrats -- Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.) Kent Conrad (N.D.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Tom Carper (Del.) -- voted against the Rockefeller amendment. President Barack Obama's average percentage of the 2008 vote in those states was 49.4 percent.

The eight Senate Democrats who voted for the Rockefeller amendment represent states, by contrast, that gave Obama an average of 56.75 percent of the vote in the last presidential election.

While there will be more votes on the public option between now and when (and if) a final bill passes, the vote on the Rockefeller amendment shows how Democrats are approaching the politics of the issue.

Democrats representing red or swing states clearly believe the public option is a non-starter politically despite evidence in recent polling -- in places like Arkansas and Montana -- that voters in these states favor the idea of a government-run program.

Can the White House change their minds?

Carper and Nelson flipped on the Shumer public option amendment, leaving only Conrad, Lincoln and Baucus voting against it. This is good news believe it or not. It indicates that there are 51 votes for a public option in the senate.

The question most certainly is whether or not the president can change their minds. And frankly, if he doesn't have enough juice to at least hold them together for one cloture vote then I have to wonder if he has any real juice at all. Every one of these corporate lackeys can vote against the final bill if they dare. Assuming they can bring Byrd in to do it, all they need to do is break a Republican filibuster and "allow an up or down vote."

Update: Tom Harkin claims they have the votes for the PO.

Update II: Carl Cameron on Fox just said that today was the first time that anyone had a chance to vote on a public option and it got killed.

And he's right --- except for the Senate HELP Committee and the three House committees that already voted on it and passed it.