As a matter of crass political calculation, most Republicans, especially given safe House seats, had more to gain than lose in opposing the stimulus. As one explained, if the measure works, relieved voters won’t be inclined to punish Republicans; if it falters, Republicans get an “I told you so” moment. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans up for reelection in 2010 have as much to fear from primary challenges from the right as from Democratic opponents.
Indeed, rather than reviling the Senate defectors, Republicans should have thanked them for providing cover to oppose without consequences. “Those three Republicans actually did everybody a favor because, otherwise, Republicans would own the problem,” former Virginia Republican representative Tom Davis said.