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Nate, Daniel, and I write:

Lawmakers’ support for or opposition to reform generally has less to do with the views of their constituents and more to do with the issue of presidential popularity. . . .

For instance, Senator Blanche Lincoln, a Democrat who has been a less-than-strong supporter of the present health care bill, recently told The Times, “I am responsible to the people of Arkansas, and that is where I will take my direction.” But where does she look for her cue? Hers is a poor state whose voters support health care subsidies six percentage points more than the national average. On the other hand, Mr. Obama got just 40 percent of the vote there. . . ..

Public opinion is certainly relevant to the health care debate, but not in the direct senator-follows-the-state way that it is sometimes imagined.

Further discussion (including pretty maps) here.

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