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In Contrast to House, Few Signs of Electoral Politics in Senate Bailout Vote

In opposition to the House, where essentially every representative in a swing district voted against the bailout bill (the exceptions were mostly in wealthy, investor-class districts), many senators in tough races were willing put their backing behind the measure.

Among those senators in races that might even vaguely be considered competitive (all the races on Swing State Project‘s list, including their snowball’s-chance-in-hell category called “races to watch”), the only to oppose the measure were four Southern fiscal conservatives — Liddy Dole, Roger Wicker, James Inhofe, and Democrat Mary Landrieu — all of whom might well have opposed the bill even if they were running against Mickey Mouse. But Ted Stevens, John Sununu, Gordon Smith, Norm Coleman, Mitch McConnell et. al. all voted for the measure, and with an exception or two like McConnell, few had institutional imperatives to do so.

So what does this tell us?

a. Sens. Obama and McCain, who both voted for the measure, wield far more influence than any other politicians in America, including the President and the House leadership;
b. The “sweeteners” in the bill worked well enough for all sides;
c. The Senate and House have different institutional philosophies;
d. The Dow’s performance over the past 72 hours scared them, and/or their constituents, into supporting the bill;
e. All of the above.

The complete tally follows.

AK  Stevens       AYE
GA Chambliss AYE
KY McConnell AYE
ME Collins AYE
MN Coleman AYE
NH Sununu AYE
OR Smith AYE
SC Graham AYE
TX Cornyn AYE

Republicans -- Competitive Races: 9 Aye, 3 Nay (75%)
Republicans -- Safe: 25 Aye, 12 Nay (68%)

NJ Lautenberg AYE

Democrats -- Competitive Races: 1 Aye, 1 Nay (50%)
Democrats -- Safe: 40 Aye, 8 Nay, 1 N/V (83%)

{Independents -- Safe: 1 Aye, 1 Nay}

Total Competitive: 10 Aye, 4 Nay (71%)
Total Noncompetitive: 64 Aye, 21 Nay, 1 N/V

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