Thursday, January 08, 2009

Are Retiring Republican Senators More Likely To Support Obama?

Here is a question I can't figure out: will retiring Republicans, freed from their need to appeal to their base, be more likely to support President Obama's agenda?

I assume the answer is yes, but I'm actually not so sure.

Obviously we need to distinguish between more moderate and conservative Republican retirees (i.e., Martinez & Bond vs. Brownback.)

The question does assume that their is some sort of objective "correct position" in the national interest on the issues that Republicans only stray from in order to play political games. Thus, freed from that game-playing obligation, the Senator will be free to maximize national interests, having eliminated their need to play to the base.

A good example of this is Specter, who I imagine is saber rattling on Holder more because of Pat Toomey's looming primary challenge than any real umbrage. I think this is exacerbated because of Specter's particular vulnerability on justice issues from the Conservative base. (It will be interesting to see how Specter treats Obama's judicial nominees. Harshly, I'd assume.)

But I'm not so sure that the retiring Republican votes on Obama's agenda are so assured. Take the auto-bailout bill. Martinez (who I believe had announced his retirement at that point, but certainly knew about it) still voted against it -- I'm not sure about how much foreign auto production occurs in Florida.

It is interesting to note that Bond was one of 3 Republicans south of the Mason-Dixon line (retirees J. Warner & Dole were the others) to vote for the bill. (Actually, come to thnk of it, Brownback also voted for the bailout.)