How the debt vote went in the 'big states'

August 2, 2011

The votes on the big debt ceiling bill are in from the House of Representatives -- as Speaker John Boehner likes to say, the people’s house – with a tally of 269 to 161 (most GOPers, about half the Dems), but here are some quick observations from the most Electoral College vote-rich states:

  • Every single Democrat in the Ohio delegation voted against the bill, not just Dennis Kucinich. Considering that Ohio is a must win for a Democrat in a presidential election, that should have the White House just a tad worried. Ohio is the sixth richest harvest of electoral votes, with 23. The state caucus as a whole voted in favor of raising the debt ceiling, but strictly on the backs of the Republicans. (And if you're thinking, campaign first ... all five of Iowa's representatives, Dems and Repubs, voted NO, while both of New Hampshire's Republicans -- the entire delegation -- voted YES.)
  • In New York, with 36 electoral votes, all but one of the NO votes for the debt ceiling came from Democrats. The state delegation as a whole came out in favor of the bill by only one vote, 14-13. Not what you'd call overwhelming support. The only non-white YES vote was Gregory Meeks, who represents affluent, mostly black, sections of Jamaica, Rosedale, and JFK airport.
  • In California, the most electoral rich state with 47 votes, of the 23 NO votes for raising the debt ceiling, a full 20 were Democrats. Again, the majority of California legislators voted in favor, including Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s tepid aye. To get a second term, Barack Obama needs California, and if he manages to pull that off, he's gonna desperately need Pelosi.
  • Texas, the third largest state in the Electoral College with 29, saw more Republicans – including Ron Paul, of course -- opposing the deal than Democrats, 5 to 3, but voted overwhelmingly in favor of the legislation. Ditto in Florida, which has a comfortable Republican majority in its caucus. Neither of these states are in play for Obama -- Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is a likely GOP presidential contender, and Florida's so miffed at the president it actually turned down health care reform monies from the feds.
  • In Pennsylvania, with 25 votes in the Electoral College, 18 of the 19 members of congress went with the debt relief bill. The lone dissenter was a Democrat, Mike Doyle, who came to congress with the Reagan Revolution in 1994 – one of the few Democrats elected that year. Basically, he doesn’t think the economics of the bill are real.
  • In Illinois, the debt limit raise got 14 out of 19 votes. And the NOs covered the political spectrum, from Tea Party freshmen Joe Walsh and Randy Hultgren, moderate Tim V. Johnson to progressive Jesse Jackson Jr., who earlier in the day said the deal had been “gained by extortion and a weak defense." You know it's a sad, sad day when Jesse Jr., one of the president's earliest and most dedicated supporters, ends up voting against him.
  • And if you're curious about the South Carolina delegation -- Tea Party godfather Sen. Jim DeMint's delegation -- all of the GOP genuflected and voted against raising the debt ceiling. The single YES vote came from James Clyburn, the Dem's Number Three, after Pelosi and whip Steny Hoyer.
  • Some random votes: In North Carolina, there was only one Democrat among the six YES votes, only one Republican among the seven NO votes. In Massachussets, the all Democratic caucus split 3 to 10, against the bill. In Indiana, Republican Mike Pence voted YES but Dan Burton, who's probably more conservative, voted NO. Democrat John Lewis of Georgia voted NO. Michigan's Democratic JOhn Lewis Jr. voted NO. Republican Ben Quayle of Arizano voted NO. Democrat Tammy Baldin was the only NO in Wisconsin's seven votes. And if I counted correctly, the Latino reps split straight down the middle, 11 YES and 11 NO.