Skip to main content
ABC News
Blue Dog Districts Need Health Care More than Most

One thing I don’t understand is the equivalence, such as in this Roll Call article today, between the health care debate and the climate bill that was passed by the House a couple of weeks ago. There are 48 Congressional Districts that were won by John McCain and that currently have a Democratic Representative. Most of those districts are rural and blue-collar. On the climate change bill, this might give those Representatives ample reason to vote against the initiative: 38 of the 48 have per capita carbon output rates above the national median, and 36 of the 48 have an above-median concentration of jobs in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. But something the opposite holds true on health care.

Throughout last year, Gallup included a module on health and well being in their standard tracking surveys. This meant they had tens of thousands of interviews between all 435 Congressional Districts. One of the questions on the well-being module was about whether or not people had health insurance. Eric Nielsen at Gallup was kind enough, a while back, to send me these results broken down by Congressional District.

The median Congressional District has an uninsured population of 14.6 percent, according to Gallup’s data (the average is slightly higher at 15.5 percent). Of the 48 McCainocrat districts, 31 (roughly two-thirds) have an above-median number of uninsured. A complete list follows below (actual Blue Dogs are denoted in … you guessed it … blue):

The bottom line is that the health care bill, among other things, is designed to help out the poor and the uninsured, and somehow or another will tax the rich in order to do so. I can understand if, say, Jason Altmire from PA-4 wants to vote against the health care bill. His district is suburban and pretty well off, and almost everyone there has health insurance. But Mike Ross of the Arkansas 4th, where almost 22 percent of the population is uninsured? This is a bill designed to help districts like his. And the same goes for most of the other Blue Dogs. A lot of the time, these guys are stuck in a tough spot between their party and their constituents. Here, those interests are mostly aligned. If a lot of the people on the top half of this list are voting against health care, first check the lobbying numbers, and then check to see if they’re still in office four years hence.

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.