I’m actually quite pleased not to be dealing with whip counts, as I did for the past week or so; everything was getting a bit too horse-race-y for my tastes. But just to revisit it one last time, take a look at the Democrats who voted no on health care, not one (really) from the left but 34 from the right. Eric Kleefeld actually has a good rendering of the district-level makeup of these members. Eight of the No’s came from districts Obama carried; four (Barrow, Lipinski, Lynch and Artur Davis) came from districts with a Democratic PVI lean.

A side note: two of those Democrats in blue districts, Steven Lynch and Dan Lipinski, actually voted for the reconciliation bill after voting against the health care bill. One Democrat, after voting for the Senate bill, voted against fixing it – Jim Cooper.

Seeing all those Democrats in heavily Republican districts – 13 over R+10 PVI – who habitually vote against everything Democrats put up, makes me wonder why they should ever be supported financially by the Democratic infrastructure again. And it seemed that some were thinking along these lines, making all kinds of primary threats in the days leading up to the vote. But one high-profile challenge has already fizzled.

Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin will avoid a primary fight for her South Dakota seat, sidestepping a potentially divisive Democratic battle with a top campaign official to President Obama.

Steve Hildebrand told CNN last week he was seriously considering challenging Herseth Sandlin if she voted against health care reform or if the vote was close.

Herseth Sandlin did vote against the bill, which passed late Sunday evening by a 219 to 212 margin. But Hildebrand said Monday morning that the margin of victory was wide enough, and that Democratic leaders could have called in more Democratic votes but chose to allow some lawmakers to oppose the measure because of “their own politics.”

Hildebrand merely suggests at a deal for some Democrats to walk away from the vote (which, due to the scrutiny of the vote counts, I don’t think was plausible absent a massive, weeks-long conspiracy with the Stupak bloc). But what’s more distressing is that Stephanie Herseth Sandlin will get a bunch of dough from the DCCC because of the supposed “importance” of holding her seat. How, pray tell, is it important to hold a seat where the Democrat cannot vote for Democratic agenda items? Keep in mind there are plenty of seats held by Republicans where Obama won in 2008, too. In fact, one of them, Bill Hedrick in CA-44, immediately released a statement blasting Republican Rep. Ken Calvert for opposing efforts at improving the health care system:

For 18 years, Ken Calvert has put party politics before the people of this district. Today he had a chance to redeem himself by voting for the landmark health insurance reform bill that would directly help hundreds of thousands of people in the 44th. But Ken Calvert, once again putting his personal and party interests first, voted against it.

It’s not really about the health care bill per se. It’s that accountability comes last for Blue Dogs, and help comes last for progressive challengers. That’s been clear for quite a while. Maybe labor is starting to see things differently. But I’ll bring to your attention the fact that they immediately starting protecting those who voted for the health care bill rather than damning those who didn’t. And in the days leading up to the vote, the latter was more of a priority.

David Dayen

David Dayen