October 11, 2002
Handicapping the senate vote

As noted just about everywhere, the US Senate voted today to support the Bush Administration's request to commit US troops to compelling Iraq to comply with the multiple UN resolutions regarding Iraq's weapons programs. CNN even had a roll call of each vote. All 100 senators voted (50 Democrats, 49 Republicans, and 1 Independent). 48 Republicans and 29 Democrats voted in support, while 21 Democrats, 1 Republican, and 1 Independent voted against the resolution.

What I found to be interesting was the way the fall elections skewed the votes—of the 21 Democrats voting "no", only four are facing reelection this year; nine senators (and Torricelli/NJ) who are up for reelection voted for the Bush initiative, including such stalwart lefties as Tom Harkin (IA), Jay Rockefeller (WV) and John Kerry (MA). Of the four that voted against the resolution, three are sure bets to win their races—Durbin (IL), Levin (MI), and Reed (RI). Only Paul Wellstone (MN) is risking his seat with his vote.

One has to wonder how much influence the election played in the voting, although most of the Democrats who voted in support are from the more moderate wing of the Democratic Party, and a majority of both parties supported the resolution, unlike the vote in the House of Representatives. 61 percent of the Democratic representatives voted against the measure, and they face election every two years, as opposed to the six-year terms of senators.

posted on October 11, 2002 05:08 PM


Re-election considerations played very heavily on Wellstone's "Nay" vote, too. He voted against the '91 Gulf War bill and was between a rock and a hard place. If he vaoted "Aye", he was open to attack for being inconsistent; a "Nay" vote might not play well, but at least allows him to claim he's consistent. I suspect breaking his promise to only serve two terms will hurt him more.

posted by Dodd on October 11, 2002 10:38 PM

I dunno. We've had two pols go back on their self-imposed term limits here in Oklahoma, and it didn't affect their electability much. Then again, Wellstone is facing a tougher challenge than either of these guys (if you're keeping score: Don Nickles and the departing J. C. Watts) ever did.

posted by CGHill on October 12, 2002 03:00 AM

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