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Healthcare reform vote: Which Democrats are most vulnerable?

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In 1994, six incumbent Democrats lost their seats anyway after voting "no" on the deficit reduction bill, recalls Amy Walter, editor-in-chief of the Hotline political website, who worked for MMM at the time. And there were six incumbent Democrats from swing districts who voted “yes” on deficit reduction and survived.

In fact, most Democrats survived reelection. But “those who lost office in ’94 were disproportionately those who had supported Clinton on some tough votes and represented Republican-leaning districts,” says Gary Jacobson, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego.

Virginia alone has three Democratic House members currently in tough reelection fights – Tom Perriello (one of the biggest upset winners of 2008), Glenn Nye (another freshman upset winner), and Rick Boucher (a 14-term member who represents a very conservative part of the state).

Any of them could think, “Well, I’m going to lose anyway, so why not take one for the team, and vote for healthcare reform?”

But it’s not so simple. No individual is guaranteed to lose, no matter how tough the odds. For example, in Congressman Perriello's race, there could be a “tea party” candidate or two in the mix, splitting the opposition and allowing Perriello to win reelection with 45 percent of the vote.

Charges of flip-flopping may accompany a changed vote

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