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By Jay Cost

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Will Nancy Pelosi Find the Votes?

The Hill has been keeping a pretty good whip count of the vote. It suggests Nancy Pelosi has a heck of a job on her hand.

Here's how I see things breaking down.

The Hill has 37 Democrats in the "Firm No, Leaning No, Likely No" category. I agree with 36 of these 37 (Update 12 noon: Or, better put, 36 of 37 seem plausible to me). The only objection I have is Luis Gutierrez, and that's not a criticism of The Hill. He says he's a no, which is why he's there. I think he's going to be a yes when push comes to shove.

Then I go down to their list of Undecideds, and I see plenty who could very well wind up as no votes. Here are the top 11.

-Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania. Voted no last time. Nobody has gotten more face-time than this publicity hound. He's been publicly fretting to everybody with a tape recorder about the burden of casting such an important vote. Yet he never fails to mention that the views of his constituents will be the deciding concern. His district gave Barack Obama 44% of the vote, and the Republicans have landed a top-tier midterm recruit in Mary Beth Buchanan. I'd point out that he voted against the rule in November. This is typically a party-line vote, and it's a sign that the political implications are very much on his mind.

-John Boccieri of Ohio. Voted no last time. Also voted for the Stupak amendment. Its exclusion could make him tough to get. He didn't show up to Obama's rally yesterday in Ohio.

-Allen Boyd of Florida. Voted no last time. He has a primary opponent, but he also comes from a district that gave John McCain 54% of the vote. In late February, he expressed concerns about reconciliation and passing a bill that lacked public support. Importantly, he also voted against the education bill that is going to be included in the reconciliation package. He voted against the package in the Budget Committee yesterday.

-Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania. Voted yes last time. She is generally seen as a Stupak Democrat. I'd be surprised to see Democrats like Stupak and Lipinski vote against the bill, but Dahlkemper vote in favor. She comes from a pro-life district in northwestern Pennsylvania.

-Brad Ellsworth of Indiana. Voted yes last time. He's running for the Senate in Indiana, and has expressed concerns about abortion. With fellow Hoosier Joe Donnelly upset about abortion, Ellsworth has extra pressure on him.

-Baron Hill of Indiana. Voted yes last time. If Donnelly and Ellsworth vote no, Hill might bolt, too. Charlie Cook currently rates his race a toss-up, and he voted for the Stupak amendment last time.

-Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania. Voted yes last time. He's in a tight race in his Scranton-area district - and the education bill might make the difference. He voted against it last time. Sallie Mae has a big presence in Scranton. He also has a strong pro-life record and voted for the Stupak amendment in November.

-Glenn Nye of Virginia. Voted no last time. The Weekly Standard reports on an item that he sent to his constituents with very negative comments about provisions in the bill. Charlie Cook rates his race a toss-up.

-Tom Perriello of Virginia. Voted yes last time. Jim Geraghty at the Campaign Spot reports that he's making negative comments to constituents about the abortion language in the bill. Charlie Cook rates his race a toss-up. (Update, 2:20 PM: Chris Bowers of Open Left reports a statement from Perriello saying that he is not a Stupak Democrat, but that he has "plenty of serious problems with the Senate bill.")

-Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota. Voted yes last time. Politico reported that he made some very negative comments about both the House and Senate bills a few weeks ago. He voted for the Stupak amendment and faces a very tough reelection challenge.

-John Tanner of Tennessee. Voted no last time. He's retiring, but the last I heard about him was a report in the New York Times that he's not inclined to give the Speaker his vote.

Counting votes is more alchemy than arithmetic, and so I don't want to say something like, "The Speaker is so-and-so votes short." (Update, 2:50 PM Nor am I prepared to put a probability estimate on this. I honestly and truly have no idea what is going to happen.) My conclusion is more modest. I look over the list of people who have indicated disinclination to support the bill, and the list of those who are technically on-the-fence - and I see an enormous challenge.

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-Jay Cost