Democrats, who already have 60 votes in the Senate, theoretically don't need her support. But in practice, they do -- to persuade their own wavering moderates to support the legislation.
Snowe's vote also gives Democrats the right to claim that their bill is technically "bipartisan," even if it is opposed by the 39 other Republicans. Thus, Snowe's support vastly improves the legislation's prospects, as demonstrated by the retreat of health insurance stocks on Wall Street after Snowe announced her support for the measure.
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