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On December 24, 2009, sixty US Senators — all Democrats or independents caucusing with them — voted for the Affordable Care & Patient Protection Act. A scant five years later, only 33 (55%) of them are still in office. That’s an attrition rate of 45%, 15% per election, among members of body famously designed to be insulated from popular whim.
To be fair, there are a number of reasons for this that have nothing to do with ObamaCare: some senators have died; some have taken appointments in the Obama administration and been replaced by ideological clones; others elected during the last major wave reached their natural age of retirement. Still, it’s a historically high number.
Contrast that with the 39 Republicans who voted against ObamaCare: 27 (69%) of them are still in office; 9 (23%) retired; two lost primaries; and one resigned. In all, Republican attrition during the same period has been about 11% per election (see below for details).
More remarkably, Republicans have held onto all but two of the seats they had in 2009, and neither of those losses had the incumbents on the ticket; i.e., not a single Republican who voted against ObamaCare has been defeated by a Democrat.* In contrast, Democrats have lost at least 14 of the seats they held when they passed ObamaCare and — just last night — Kay Hagan, Mark Pryor, Mark Udall, and Mark Begich all lost their first reelection bids since voting for the president’s signature legislation and Mary Landrieu may well follow them. They join Blanche Lincoln, who lost in 2012, in sharing that distinction.
The president promised time and time again that Americans would come to love the ACA as they got used to it. Last night was yet another repudiation of that.
* Scott Brown is an arguable exception, but a very odd one.
Republicans Who Voted Against the ACA:
Llamar Alexander – Incumbent
John Barrasso – Incumbent
Robert Bennett – Lost primary to Mike Lee, who went on to win.
Christopher Bond – Retired
Sam Brownback – Retired, currently serving as KS governor
Richard Burr – Incumbent
Saxby Chambliss – Incumbent
Tom Coburn – Incumbent, but retiring
Thad Cochran – Incumbent
Susan Collins – Incumbent
Robert Corker – Incumbent
John Cornyn – Incumbent
Michael Crapo – Incumbent
Jim DeMint – Retired, replaced by Tim Scott
John Ensign – Resigned over ethics violations, replaced by Dean Heller
Mike Enzi – Incumbent
Lindsey Graham – Incumbent
Chuck Grassly – Incumbent
Judd Gregg – Retired, replaced by Kelly Ayotte
Orrin Hatch – Incumbent
Kay Bailey Hutchison – Retired, replaced by Ted Cruz
James Inhofe – Incumbent
Johnny Isakson – Incumbent
Mike Johanns – Incumbent
Jon Kyl – Retired, replaced by Jeff Flake
George Lemieux – Retired from interim appointment, replaced by Marco Rubio
Richard Lugar – Lost primary to Richard Mourdock in 2012, who then lost to Democrat Joe Donnelly
John McCain – Incumbent
Mitch McConnell – Incumbent
Lisa Murkowski – Incumbent (lost primary, but then won the general election as a write-in)
James Risch – Incumbent
Pat Roberts – Incumbent
Jeff Sessions – Incumbent
Richard Shelby – Incumbent
Olympia Snowe – Retired, replaced by Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats
John Thune – Incumbent
David Vitter – Incumbent
George Voinovich – Retired, replaced by Rob Portman
Roger Wicker – Incumbent