Thursday, May 28, 2009

Counting the votes on Sotomayor

Counting the vote on Sotomayor

My firs bet on the Sotomayor nomination was, she gets confirmed 80-20. Now that I think it through, I'm guessing more like 70-30. I looked at the Senate roster and I just can't think of 20 Republicans who'll vote for her.

Traditionally, the President got the man (always a man) he wanted for the Supreme Court. There were exceptions, to be sure, like the Fortas-Haynsworth-Carswell trifecta of failure in 1968 and 1969. But it wasn't until Bork and Thomas that the modern high stakes circus atmosphere of confirmations became more or less permanent.

The Dems will be unanimous, including the occasionally unreliables (Ben Nelson). That's 58 to 59 yes votes, or 60 if both 1) Ted Kennedy is well enough to vote and 2) Franken is seated. Add Collins and Snowe from Maine and that's 60 votes even without Kennedy and Franken. So we're above the filibuster bar already and the rest is posturing.

And the GOP is all about the posturing these days. Sotomayor can cross anyone off the list who either has national ambitions (DeMint, Ensign, Thune) or is worried about a primary back home (Vitter, Murkowski, Bob Bennett of Utah, maybe even McCain?). Grassley was a no vote in Sotomayor in 1998 and my guess is he's more worried about tending to his base than he is about the general election.

But Sotomayor could still pick up a few GOP votes. The four retirees--Voinovich, Gregg, Bond and Martinez--have nothing to lose, and I say she gets them. That's 64 to 66 votes. Dick Lugar and Orrin Hatch are old-school senators of the pre-Bork school. Let's call that 66 to 68 votes.

Then there's some wild cards:

Kay Bailey Hutchison is an exception to the primary rule. Normally one would worry about the right flank, but she simply has no room to maneuver to the right of Secession Rick Perry in the Texas governor's primary. She may think ahead to the general, with an eye to female and Hispanic votes.

Lamar Alexander is approachable on nominations and a decade past his national ambitions, but his spot in party leadership makes him iffy.

Lindsey Graham is feuding with colleague Jim DeMint and even though he's very, very conservative has an occasional reasonable streak.

Let's give Sotomayor two of three wild cards. That's 68 to 70 votes.

My prediction: a 69 to 29 roll call. Dems lose one vote, either Kennedy or Franken, to absence. GOP loses one vote: by the time it gets to the floor Jim Bunning will have been forced out of his re-election race and will quit coming to work just to spite Mitch McConnell.

1 comment:

Leah Texas4Obama said...

Sen. Byrd has recently been released from the hospital and might miss the senate confirmation vote as well as Sen. Kennedy.

Lugar, Martinez, Snowe have stated that they will vote 'yes'.

McConnnell, Bennett, Bunning, Roberts, Inhofe, Brownback -- have all said they will vote 'no'.