Blanche Lincoln and Health Care


Some Democratic Senators really enjoy making waves in the national press with highly public hand-wringing about the progressive agenda. Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas isn’t like that. Consequently, she tends to fly under the radar screen. But as Brian Beutler points out, in some ways her vote may be the hardest to get:

As a rule, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) may not be as ideological as Nelson is. But she’s got a problem on her hands right now that Nelson doesn’t. She’s an unpopular senator in a conservative state and she’s up for re-election next year. Unlike Nelson (or Joe Lieberman, who we’ll get to momentarily) securing Lincoln’s procedural vote is a nuts-and-bolts political problem. How do you get her into a position where she (and the Democratic party) feels her seat isn’t particularly imperiled by votes for health care reform. Last week, she met with both Reid and President Obama. Those conversations will surely continue.

The most recent polling on Lincoln I found with a quick Google was from August and it looked really bleak for her. On the other hand, the public option polls well in Arkansas. But perhaps the most convincing thing you could say would be the argument from legacy. A lot of members of congress spent 1993 and ’94 spiking the Clinton legislative agenda and then went down to defeat in November 1994 anyway. Wouldn’t it make more sense to turn the 111th Congress into a substantive success, hope you can persuade the voters that these are good ideas, and if you fail at least manage to have gone down fighting accomplishing something important?