Missing Flippers

by digby

I was going to write about this new idea floating around that if Coakley loses in Massachusetts, the House would just pass the Senate health care bill as is and it would all be hunky dory, but Dday made the point perfectly already:

If this were just a case of the merits of the bill, that could be the case. Enough of the 39 conservative Dems would see the Senate bill as closer to their priorities for health care reform to offset liberals who may defect. And House liberals always seem to come back to the herd anyway.

But that treats passage of the Senate bill in a post-Brown environment as a policy and not a political problem. Cohn says that anyone who has already voted for the bill has sealed their fate on it in terms of attack ads, but that doesn’t account for those who, in Cohn’s world would flip their vote to Yes after a Republican was elected in Massachusetts largely on the slogan that he would be the 41st vote to block health care. As Ben Smith notes, there would be mass panic (Mass panic?) in the caucus, and people don’t usually pass political courage tests in that environment.

And you would have to get some flippers, because the pool of 220 votes from when the House passed their bill in November is gone. Robert Wexler resigned, dropping it to 219. Setting aside the fact that the affordability credits aren’t good enough for the House, the excise tax deal with unions would be invalidated, the exchanges would be state-based, and all the rest – just on the abortion issue alone, and remember the Nelson amendment is in the Senate bill, which Bart Stupak has derided, you probably lose a dozen more. It’s pretty confirmed that you’d lose three – Stupak, Republican Joseph Cao, and Steve Dreihaus.

I read the Cohn piece to which he referred last night and couldn't figure out what in the world he was thinking. The "centrists," as he called them, are going to be the ones running for the hills if Coakley loses. Hell, they might run for the hills even if she wins at this point (and who knows what Nelson and Lieberman are going to do either?)Meanwhile, progressives could legitimately peel off because the Senate bill sucks too badly even for them. And then there's still the damned anti-abortion nonsense.

So who does Cohn or anyone else think they are going to get to flip from a no to a yes in the wake of a Coakley loss? Read Dday's whole post for the gory details.

Update: And speaking of Nelson, anyone who thinks he isn't in play if Coakley loses isn't watching what's happening to him in Nebraska:

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson and his wife were leaving dinner at a new pizza joint near their home in Omaha one night last week when a patron began complaining about Nelson’s decisive vote in favor of the Senate’s health care bill.

Other customers started booing. A woman yelled, “Get him the hell out of here!” And the Nelsons and their dining companions beat a hasty retreat.

“It was definitely a scene in there,” said Tom Lewis, a 41-year-old dentist and registered Republican who witnessed the incident. A second witness confirmed the incident to POLITICO.

It’s a new experience for Nelson.