Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) could lose her seat because the 60 vote threshold in the Senate forced her to vote for legislation unpopular in her state

There is poetic justice to the fact that some of the Senators who selfishly defend the filibuster to increase their influence over the Senate may end up losing it all as a result.

The problem is several senate Democrats are running for re-election in states that lean Republican and they are on record as voting for some Obama policies which are very unpopular in their states. For example in Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu is a very tough race. In her state only 33 percent approve of the health care law she voted for while 53 percent disapprove of the law. The same basic dynamic exist in North Carolina and probably Arkansas.

The only reason Landrieu needed to vote for the Affordable Care Act is that Democrats refused to eliminate the filibuster. If early in 2009 Senate Democrats had eliminated the filibuster the health care law could have been approved with a simple majority while Landrieu voted no. She could have been running without this anchor around her neck.

In addition without the filibuster the law wouldn’t have gotten so extremely unpopular in the first place. One thing that really drove down the laws’ numbers was how the legislative fighting dragged on for months. The final horse trading to get to 60 votes did real damage to the laws image. It was only because Democrats were trying to get Landrieu’s vote they decided to include the much maligned “Louisiana Purchase.”

The filibuster gives individual senators more power to stop things but it also forces them to take unpopular votes, creates messier final compromises for legislation, and greatly increase the gridlock which makes all incumbents look bad.

Without the filibuster Obamacare would probably be marginally more popular and vulnerable Senate Democrats wouldn’t need to defend their votes for it. It is impossible to know what would happen in this alternative timeline but it seems clear many Democrats would politically have been better off. If the party just barely loses a few incumbents it could have been the difference.