If Bayh is swayed by public opinion…

IF BAYH IS SWAYED BY PUBLIC OPINION…. It became apparent yesterday that Sen. Evan Bayh (D) of Indiana, one of the Senate Democratic caucus’ more conservative members, is one of a handful of Dems whose support for health care reform is in doubt.

If the senator is at all interested in public opinion — and with Bayh’s re-election bid coming next year, he should be — he may want to at least consider a new poll from Research 2000, as commissioned by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

Bayh, to be sure, remains quite popular with Hoosiers*. But residents also prefer a fairly progressive approach to health care. Using the same wording as a recent NYT/CBS poll, a 52% majority in Indiana support the public option, and 53% believe the plan would help people in the state.

Looking ahead, 27% of residents said they’d be less likely to vote for Bayh if he opposed the public option, and 29% said the same if Bayh joined with Republicans on a filibuster. Among Democrats exclusively, a 54% majority said they’d be less likely to vote for Bayh in a Democratic primary if he joins with the GOP in blocking consideration of the bill.

What’s more, the insurance industry — which has rewarded Bayh with about $1.5 million in contributions — is not at all popular with Hoosiers. A 77% majority — more than three out of four — believe insurers care more about “making a profit” than helping patients.

Something for Bayh to keep in mind.

On a related note, Bayh endorsed Republican rhetoric yesterday, saying he doesn’t see “much difference between process and policy at this particular juncture.” In other words, if he’s not satisfied with the bill, then Bayh has no problem voting with Republicans on the procedural vote to stop the bill from coming to the floor for a vote.

Tim Tagaris found that Bayh has not always felt that way.

Example 1: In 2008, Evan Bayh voted in favor of a cloture motion on the bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, though he opposed the bill itself. “Bayh voted with most Democrats to stop the filibuster because, he said, it was preventing amendments that could have improved the bill.”[Gannett, 6/12/2008; Vote 145, 6/6/2008]

Example 2: In 2005, Senator Bayh voted for cloture on Judge Owen’s nomination, but against final confirmation. Vote 127, 5/24/05: Senate.gov ; Vote 128, 5/25/05: Senate.gov. Judge Owen, you might recall, was the first nominee to reach the floor after the “Gang of 14” agreements.

Example 3: In 2004, Senator Bayh voted for cloture on the conference report to H.R. 1047, a $388 billion spending bill, then voted against final passage the next day. Vote 214, 11/19/04 ; Vote 215, 11/20/04

So, in short, when Senators take to the floor and vote for “cloture,” they are saying that it is time to move beyond obstructing a health care bill and on to an “up or down vote” on the substance of the legislation.

Something else for Bayh to keep in mind.

* fixed