I’m unpersuaded. He’s starting with 178 Republican no’s — Cao, he insists, he is a “firm no,” but all that really means is that Cao won’t flip unless passage is assured. They need 38 Democrats to kill it and, luckily enough, 37 Democrats voted no in November. We pick up the story there:
Of those , five have publicly switched their votes to yes. That leaves 32. In addition, some others might change their votes to yes as well, and Cantor names six: Baird, Kosmas, McMahon, Murphy, Tanner, and Teague.
But if there are in fact 32 original Democratic no votes that are still no votes, then Republicans need to find six other Democrats to vote no in order to defeat the bill. Cantor points to one original yes vote that has switched to no — Arcuri — and suggests there might be five others who could switch: Berry, Costa, Giffords, Lynch, and Space.
That leaves the much-discussed Stupak Group. The pro-life Democrat originally said he had 12 colleagues who originally voted yes but would now vote no. Stupak has lost some of those, but it is not clear how many.
Cantor suggests that in combining those two categories — the yeses who have become no plus the Stupak group — there might be another 12 votes against the bill. “If we add 12 to 32, we get 44 — which leaves Speaker Pelosi seven votes short,” Cantor concludes. Of course, if there are less than 32 original no votes who remain no votes, the margin is tighter.
Kosmas and now Murphy have announced that they’re voting yes, so assume that the rest of the six identified by Cantor will flip too. Since the momentum is with the yeses, the likelihood of further yes-to-no flips is increasingly small. That leaves 26 plus the Stupak 12 for a total of 38 — the precise number needed to kill the bill on a 215-216. But wait. Not only have the Stupakers already lost a key member in Ellsworth, which would give Pelosi a one-vote victory in this hypothetical, but the fact that Stupak and other pro-lifers have called a presser for tomorrow suggests a phony deal may be at hand. And even if Ellsworth somehow flipped back and the rest of the bloc held firm, there’s no way this thing is going down by one vote. If it’s that close, the pressure to give Obama and Pelosi a win will flip a few Blue Dogs their way. The only way realistically to kill it is to have a five- or six-vote cushion among the no’s, which is where Cantor is right now according to his own outdated numbers. If even one more vote flips, the end is near.