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With the GOP getting closer and closer to a 2010 campaign pledging to repeal the health care bill, what are some of the political pitfalls -- or potential benefits? We asked University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato, and he told us that the GOP could face risks because of the popular individual components of the bill.

"There are very popular parts of the health care bill, i.e., the insurance reforms. If the GOP doesn't exempt those from repeal, they'll be making a major error. Overwhelming majorities of voters want to stop insurance companies from cutting off insurance just when it is needed the most," Sabato said. On the other hand: "There are also unpopular parts of the bill, potentially including new fees and taxes (depending on what is actually adopted). Politically, it could be popular for the Republicans to focus on repealing them or cutting them back. Of course, without the money, there can't be a restructuring of health care."

Sabato also made clear that the real problem is one of political credibility. If Obama is still president, then his veto pen should probably be enough to stop any repeal efforts even if the GOP took both houses of Congress.

The political action committee behind the Tea Party Express (TPE) -- which already has been slammed as inauthentic and corporate-controlled by rival factions in the Tea Party movement -- directed almost two thirds of its spending during a recent reporting period back to the Republican consulting firm that created the PAC in the first place.

Our Country Deserves Better (OCDB) spent around $1.33 million from July through November, according to FEC filings examined by TPMmuckraker. Of that sum, a total of $857,122 went to Sacramento-based GOP political consulting firm Russo, Marsh, and Associates, or people associated with it.

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Rep. Parker Griffith (R-AL) has been getting a mixed reception from his state's GOP officials, since he switched from the Democratic Party last week. Some of his new Alabama co-partisans are glad to have him in the party, while some are against it -- and others even want to go so far as to ban him from the Republican primary.

State GOP chairman Mike Hubbard is welcoming Griffith despite the party's past attacks on him, and Griffith's own jousting with the state GOP when he was a state legislator. "It's almost like coming to your church and asking forgiveness for past sins," Hubbard told the Montgomery Advertiser. "You don't turn them away. We'll forgive him for his sins."

On the other hand, state Treasurer Kay Ivey, a candidate for governor, hasn't been so hospitable: "Political self-preservation isn't a virtue. In fact, political expediency is an insult to every grassroots activist who commits untold hours in devotion to getting candidates elected."

In addition there is Hugh McInnish, a Fifth Congressional District Republican committee member, who is proposing a drastic push-back against Griffith: Banning him from receiving the GOP nomination altogether. However, McInnish admitted to me that this idea was not likely to succeed at this juncture.

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Last updated 01/12/10

TPM is spending the Congressional recess tracking how health care is being viewed in home districts. Based on our reporting and reader tips, we will constantly update the list below of Democrats who voted against the House health care bill.

With few exceptions, these 38 are either conservative Democrats or vulnerable members or both. Freshmen are appended with an "F," Blue Dogs with a "BD," and Freshmen Blue Dogs with one of each.

Obviously some of the folks on this list will be opposed to any health care bill. But many should be in play, and, with the public option gone, some of those who ultimately decide to oppose the final bill will have to come up with clever new reasons for their "no" votes. If Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces more than one or two defections from the progressive wing of her party (former supporters who decide to vote "no" because of the abortion language or the loss of the public option, for instance) she'll have to draw upon this list to make up for them.

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