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Memo to Congress: The Public is Watching Your Health Care Vote

And maybe closer than you think

In a stunning reversal of fortunes, Senator Ben Nelson’s popularity is in a nosedive at home in Nebraska after he threw away his pro-life credentials for a few Medicaid dollars.

After standing firm for weeks insisting that there be no expansion of abortion through the government health care bill, Nelson abandoned that pledge once he secured millions in payments to Nebraska’s Medicaid program.  In response to the deal’s details becoming public, Senator Coburn stated in a press release that voters “will hold accountable anyone who defends sacrificing the unborn on the altar of political expediency.”

Well, Senator Coburn looks like a prophet in Nebraska.  According to a December 28 Rassmussen poll, if the election were held today between Democratic Senator Nelson and Republican Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, Nelson would lose by a shocking 31 points.  By contrast, Nelson won his last election in 2006 with 64% of the vote.

And health care reform is the overriding reason for Nelson’s stark decline.  Sixty-five per cent of Nebraskans say they oppose any health care reform that provides coverage for abortion while only 6% support mandated abortion coverage.  What would happen if he switched his vote?  Rasmussen asked and found that 20% of those voters backing Heineman would immediately come his way.

And if that wasn’t enough, Nelson’s special deal for free Medicaid money has only 17% support back home.  So much for buying votes.

While some are predicting health care passage later this month, these poll numbers offer a sobering reality check to which both Senators and Representatives should pay close heed.