By Julian Pecquet - 11/03/10 03:00 AM EDT
Democrats who voted for their party's signature domestic achievement dropped like flies throughout the evening, adding credence to Republicans' claim that the American public wants them to repeal healthcare reform.
The law's proponents read the writing on the wall early on and acted quickly to pre-empt that impression.
"American voters’ focus during the elections was overwhelmingly on jobs and the economy, and this will remain the key public concern until the economy substantially improves," Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said in a 10:30 p.m. statement. "As pre-election polls reflect, calls to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are not supported by America’s voters — and they certainly were not the motivating factor in the elections."
The evening started pretty well for Democrats who voted for healthcare reform, with Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky handily winning reelection with 54.5 percent of the vote. Yarmuth's seat was listed as "likely Democratic" in the Nov. 1 edition of The Cook Political Report, one of 77 "yes" vote seats in play Tuesday evening.
Things quickly went downhill from there.
Within hours, a dozen members had lost reelection, including four freshmen elected in the 2008 Democratic wave: Reps. Tom Perriello and Glenn Nye of Virgina and Suzanne Kosmas and Alan Grayson of Florida.
They weren't alone: Democratic Reps. Baron Hill (Ind.), Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.) and Allen Boyd (Fla.) quickly joined them. So did Pennsylvania Reps. Kathy Dahlkemper, Chris Carney and Paul Kanjorski, all of whom were main targets of the anti-abortion-rights group the Susan B. Anthony List.
Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), who voted for the bill when her vote was crucial but later voted no on reconciliation, was also defeated.
The trend is even worse when factoring in yes votes who weren't running for reelection.
Retiring Rep. Bart Gordon (Tenn.) left Democratic candidate Brett Carter to get pulverized by Republican Diane Black, 29.3 percent to 67.5.
Democrats did, however, pick up Republican Rep. Joseph Cao's seat in Louisiana. Cao had voted yes on the bill in November — the only Republican to do so — but changed his vote when the bill returned before the House in March.