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5408401Lincoln (at left) not only represents a red state, but one that got even more Republican in 2008 from 2004 (one of the few that did). She needs to be mindful of those Republican voters: one in five of her backers in 2004 had also backed then-President Bush's reelection. To win that race, Lincoln outraised and outspent her opponent by six million dollars, but her Republican challenger still got 44 percent So Lincoln doesn't appear to have a lot of electoral margin for error with Arkansas voters.
On one hand, the state has an uninsured rate higher than the national average. But Lincoln (at left) will also need to make older voters happy, which so far has looked like a daunting task with this bill, at least nationwide.
In the latest national CBS News Poll, voters over 65 years old are the least likely to approve of the overall package of Congress' health care reforms (nationally just 26 percent do) and to believe it will help them, personally.
Blanche Lincoln Feels Heat on Health Care
Meanwhile, in Arkansas, the electorate actually got a little older between 2004 and 2008 in the percent of over-65-year olds, going from 16 percent to 19 percent -- perhaps a tough sign for Lincoln if that trend continues into 2010 (they voted 2-to-1 against Mr. Obama) and if the bill next year is seen by them as detrimental.
Arkansas is also a state where self-described conservatives outnumbered moderates in 2008. On the other hand, a key item to watch is how the bill is seen to affect small towns and rural areas, which has been subject to much debate so far – and where more than four in ten Arkansas voters live.
5696255Harry Reid has obviously put his chips as majority leader in on this fight. He hasn't been polling well back home against potentially strong GOP challengers, and some will draw comparisons to the fate that befell Tom Daschle of South Dakota before him.
But Nevada isn't South Dakota. For one thing, this is a state Mr. Obama won easily, putting it in the blue column after Democrats had courted but lost it in 2004. One of the fastest growing states in the country in between those two elections, that changing electorate benefited Mr. Obama -- and could benefit Reid if (a big if) he can get support from its newer voters in an off-year.
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In 2008, Mr. Obama was boosted by a Nevada electorate with more Hispanic voters (15 percent, up from 10 percent in 2004) a little younger and one where 14 percent were voting for the first time. Reid, though, will be mindful that mid-term electorates are typically older than presidential-year ones. (Of note, the housing slump has hit Nevada as hard or harder than anywhere – so Reid's fortunes may be tied as much to an economic rebound there as anything else.)
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Anthony Salvanto is CBS News' Elections Director.