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Occam’s Razor and Health Care

I hate to say it, but I’m generally feeling a less optimistic about health care after having some smart conversations today with some very smart people here in beautiful (not kidding!) Pittsburgh, where I’m here for the next couple of days for Netroots Nation.

Occam’s Razor would suggest that a decent number of Congressmen will be scared sh*tless after seeing some number of their constituents yell at them. Yes, there might be a few who feel greater solidarity for the cause in the face of all the misinformation and screaming. Yes, there might be a few who feel repelled by the incivility of the protests. Yes, there might be a few who recognize that, even if the health care bill is fairly unpopular at the time of its passage, a failure to pass a bill would be worse for both political and policy reasons.

But Congressmen are, by and large, not the deepest people on earth. They like being popular. They don’t like getting yelled at. They don’t like taking risks. I still think health care reform is more likely than not. Nancy Pelosi’s skills as a vote-whipper are way underrated. But after seeing the Gallup polling on the protests, after seeing the how Democrats turned and ran today on the end-of-life counseling provision, I think any bill is (1) likely to pass by the skinny-skin-skin of its teeth in both chambers; (2) going to require compromise on key provisions like the public option; (3) perhaps going to require a “big” leadership/regrouping moment by Obama in early September.

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