There was no better example of election year skittishness among Democrats than a simple vote in the House on Thursday to authorize the adjournment of Congress until after the elections.
Usually these votes elicit little attention. Sometimes the minority votes against it, just because.
But on this one, 39 Democrats voted against the plan to leave town until November 15, as it pased only by one vote, 210-209.
That one vote came from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who broke the tie at the end.
For those who don’t know, by custom, a Speaker rarely votes, usually doing so only on major legislation, or to break a tie.
So, who were the 39 Democrats that registered their displeasure and why? For many of them, they wanted a vote on extending the Bush tax cuts now, and not after the elections.
Here are the names:
Adler (NJ), Altmire (PA), Arcuri (NY), Bean (IL), Bishop (NY), Bright (AL), Carney (PA), Childers (MS), Connolly (VA), Donnelly (IN), Driehaus (OH), Edwards (TX), Ellsworth (IN), Foster (IL), Giffords (AZ), Heinrich (NM), Herseth Sandlin (SD), Kilroy (OH), Kirkpatrick (AZ), Kratovil (MD), Markey (CO), Marshall (GA), McIntyre (NC), McMahon (NY), McNerney (CA), Melancon (LA), Michaud (ME), Minnick (ID), Mitchell (AZ), Murphy (PA), Nye (VA), Perriello (VA), Peters (MI), Schauer (MI), Sestak (PA), Shuler (NC), Space (OH), Taylor (MS) and Titus (NV).
This list includes a number of members who are in tough races, or could find themselves in election difficulty in just over four weeks.
For most Democrats though, getting out of town now is the right call, the right way to turn this election around.
“You have dozens and dozens of Democratic members that are in very difficult elections, and so they think there’s more good they can do at home on the campaign trail than pass another piece of legislation in Washington,” said political analyst Nathan Gonzalez.
And therein lies the $64,000 question – can Democrats avert major losses by spending the next month at home?
We’ll find out that answer in just over 4 weeks.