By Tom Curry National affairs writer
msnbc.com
updated 10/12/2009 12:09:54 PM ET 2009-10-12T16:09:54

Claim: If Democrats don't pass a public option, then in the 2010 elections they'll lose a lot of seats in Congress.

The vote on health insurance, whether with a government-run public plan or without one, will likely be the most closely watched vote of this session of Congress. Democrats remember their massive loss of seats in the 1994 elections, fueled by voters dispirited by the enactment of NAFTA and other issues. So there's potential for Democratic demoralization in 2010, especially among those who had expected enactment of a public plan.

Fact or fiction?
Unclear. Will Democrats lose seats next year if Congress does not enact a public plan — or will they lose seats if Congress does enact one? The answer depends on which state or congressional district the Democrat represents. Those who most vocally support a public plan tend to come from strongly Democratic districts or states, so they’d seem to be at little risk whether or not Congress enacts a public plan. Almost all the Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee who voted for the public plan came from strong Democratic states such as Massachusetts and Oregon. One who voted 'no,' Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln, is up for re-election next year in a state where President Obama got only 39 percent of the vote. House Democrats from competitive districts have expressed misgivings about an expanded federal role.

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