Washington (CNN) – House Democrats who voted against one of the Obama administration's signature policy initiatives – health care reform – are now cashing in on their no votes by using campaign ads to highlight their opposition to the legislation.
In March, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic House leadership scrambled to find the votes necessary to ensure the passage of the health care bill, one of the most important parts of the political calculus was which of the most vulnerable Democrats would be allowed to cast their votes against the legislation, thereby increasing their chances of reelection in 2010.
And now a few of the no voters – there are 34 Democrats in total who voted no – are starting to highlight their votes against the health care bill, a position that is likely to pay dividends amid a tough political climate and the president's declining poll numbers.
The latest Democrat to do so is Rep. Walt Minnick, the conservative Democrat running for reelection in Idaho's 1st district.
"A lifetime of business has taught me to count every penny and worry about passing on debt to our kids," Minnick says in his latest ad. "These values are rare back in Washington these days. I've had to say no far more than I've had to say yes. I've said no to big government spending, I've said no to President Obama's big health care plan and no to Wall Street bailouts."
Minnick defied the odds in 2008, winning a string of counties that backed John McCain over Barack Obama, and is facing state Republican Raul Labrador this year in a contest likely to test the Democrat.
Reps. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota and Glenn Nye of Virginia have also touted their opposition to the health care bill in recent ads.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted in August suggest the health care bill remains unpopular, partly because of the new mandate that all Americans must have health insurance (56 percent oppose the mandate).
Other provisions in the new bill are popular, however. Nearly six in ten, for example, favor restrictions on insurance companies that require them to cover people who become seriously ill or who have a pre-existing condition.
Overall, 56 percent oppose the new law, but not all of that opposition is likely to turn into votes against Democrats in November. Among those who oppose the legislation, 41 percent oppose the health care law because it is too liberal. But another 13 percent oppose the law because it was not liberal enough.