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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Notes Towards an Ideological Profile of the House Democratic Caucus

Once everyone’s through with slicing and dicing the election returns and pondering the meaning of Barack Obama’s victory, a major topic for the chattering classes will be the ideological complexion of the Democratic congressional caucuses. This is especially true of the House, where more leftbent progressives have been preoccupied for some time with efforts to curb the influence of party moderates and the moderate-to-conservative Blue Dog Coalition.
It will take some time to figure this all out, but one leading indicator involves candidates endorsed by the more ideologically inclined groups on both sides of the intraparty argument.
According to Chris Bowers of OpenLeft, five members of ActBlue’s BetterDemocrats list of reliably progressive House candidates were among those who won Republican seats last night: Alan Grayson of FL, Eric Massa of NY, Joshua Segall of AL, Tom Perriello of VA, and Gary Peters of MI. Two others, Darcy Burner of WA and Charlie Brown of CA, are in very close races that haven’t yet been decided.
Meanwhile, according to an email from Blue Dog Coalition communications director Kristen Hawn, they’re claiming Bobby Bright of AL and Walt Minnick of ID, who won Republican seats, plus Frank Kradovil of MD, who’s in an undecided race. But of the four incumbent Democrats who lost, two (Nick Lampson of TX and Tim Mahoney of FL) were officially Blue Dogs, while the other two (Nancy Boyda of KS and Don Cazayoux of LA) were closely aligned with the Blue Dogs.
With Democrats making–so far–a net gain of 21 seats, this accounting-by-endorsement method leaves a majority of new Members unaccounted for. Many of them, I would guess from limited knowledge of anything other than their districts, are probably standard-brand Democrats who will largely follow the leadership and aren’t factional by nature. But it does cast some doubt on the widespread assumption than an expanded Caucus would necessarily involve a tilt to the center or right.
UPCATEGORY: Democratic Strategist

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