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Bucking The Trend? Dems In Tough Races Run On Vote For Health Care Reform (VIDEO)

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1. Sen. Russ Feingold

Feingold is behind in his re-election campaign, and running against an extremely conservative businessman -- Ron Johnson -- who attacks the health care bill daily. So it came as a surprise to many when Feingold two weeks ago unveiled the below ad, touting his support for the legislation, and challenging Johnson: "hands off my health care."

It may be working. Johnson used to support a full repeal of the law, but has recently backtracked on that position.

The TPM Poll Average gives Johnson a 52.2-44.0 lead over Feingold.

2. Majority Leader Harry Reid

As Senate Majority Leader, Reid had little choice but to defend his vote, defend it early, and describe how his accomplishment will benefit Nevadans. He did just that in this April ad touting the fact that the health care law will, over time, close the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole.

The TPM Poll Average has Reid and his opponent Sharron Angle tied at 47.6.

3. Rep. Scott Murphy

The New York Democrat has just launched the ad that all Democrats probably should've been running for... well, the whole health care fight. He doesn't just cop to his vote, and hit his opponent, Chris Gibson, for wanting to repeal certain parts of the law. He mounts the most comprehensive defense of reform any candidate has thus far. "Chris Gibson wants to repeal the health care law. Chris Gibson would let insurance companies go back to denying coverage for preexisting conditions. He would let them restore lifetime limits on coverage. Chris Gibson would eliminate mandatory coverage for preventive care, like mammograms and colon screenings. And seniors would pay more for prescription drugs."

That may have to do with current politics. The TPM Poll Average gives Murphy a 48.0-38.3 lead over Gibson.

4. Rep. Earl Pomeroy

Here's a race where few inside the beltway would expect the Democrat to be running on his pro-health care reform vote. It's fitting, then, that fewer still know that that's exactly what he's doing. Perhaps Pomeroy would have a different focus if unemployment numbers in North Dakota were worse than they are. But his strategy still doesn't fit into the DC paradigm.

The TPM Poll Average has Pomeroy down 47.1-45.5 against his opponent Rick Berg, and quickly closing the gap.

5. Rep. Dina Titus

With unemployment through the roof, and well-funded opponents, Democrats are in a tough spot in Nevada. But that's not stopping Dina Titus. In the below ad Titus describes her vote for the health care law as of a piece with other populist votes she took: against the 2008 bailout, against tax loopholes for outsources, and for a congressional pay freeze. In this telling, she "took on big insurance companies to end discrimination against pre-existing conditions."

The TPM Poll Average has Titus trailing her opponent Joe Heck 46.9-45.7.

It's not just TV ads, though.

ThinkProgress put together the below compilation of members and candidates, including Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Rep. Brad Ellsworth, running for Senate in Indiana, boasting about the legislation in their debates.

It's happening in print and online as well. Rep. Steve Kagen (D-WI), who was down 18 points in a recent poll, nonetheless penned an op-ed defending the law. Freshly-minted Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) did the same, though he's leading his race by a healthy margin.

About The Author

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Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com