The conservative wave that hit Congress two weeks ago swept a disproportionate number of conservative and centrist Democrats out of office, with only 25 out of 54 members of the fiscally-conservative Blue Dog Coalition winning reelection. Among the coalition’s casualties were two of its leaders: Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota and Rep. Baron Hill of Indiana.
Before the midterms, Blue Dogs comprised 20 percent of House Democrats. Now they make up just 13 percent—which means that the diminished Democratic caucus will be far more liberal on average than it was before the elections.
Blue Dogs come from all over the United States and tend to represent swing states. Their name is a play on the South’s “yellow-dog Democrats,” who were supposedly prepared to vote for a “yellow dog,” so long as it was a Democrat. The group chose the moniker ‘Blue Dogs’ after the last major Democratic defeat in 1994. The idea was to inoculate themselves against their party’s liberal image, which they felt endangered their chances of winning in largely conservative districts. The group gained increased power in 2008 when constituents voted more of them into office.
Some progressive commentators have speculated that conservative Blue Dogs doomed the party when they blocked liberals in Congress from passing more liberal legislation and delivering on President Obama’s promises. Many Blue Dogs opposed stimulus spending and health care reform. In the end, some liberal observers contend, voters rejected the party for its lack of progressive daring.
However, former Texas Rep. Charlie Stenholm, who cofounded the coalition 15 years ago, has argued that the Blue Dogs got caught up in a dramatic repudiation of the party.
Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah for one was not surprised by the results, but fears potential consequences. He has said that a lack of moderate voices, there is the potential to intensify the political polarization of the House, eventually leading to legislative gridlock and increased partisanship.
On the flip side, House leaders could see the election as a sign that voters are tired of Congress not working together and more than willing to vote out whichever party is in control.
Matheson says the remaining Blue Dogs are willing to negotiate with the Republican Party, specifically on issues pertaining to the budget and spending.
Carmen Singleton is an intern at C&E.
<!– /article-body –>
<!– x –>
<!– ERROR id = “comment” –>
<!– MESSAGE id = “approval” –>
Be the first to comment on this article!
<!– /comments –>
<!– /article-body –>
by Noah Rothman / Jul 12 2010
by Noah Rothman / Jul 22 2010
by Noah Rothman / Sep 13 2010
by Boyce Upholt / Apr 27 2009
by Boyce Upholt / Jun 10 2009
by Lani Lester / Jul 15 2009
<!– /related-articles –>
<!– /related –>
<!– /article –>
<!– /column-content –>
Newsletter Sign up
Please enter a valid email address
Sign up here to receive newsletters and special offers from Campaigns & Elections.
<!– /newsletter-signup –>
Advertise with Campaigns&Elections
<!– Overlay_Popup –>
<!– /mpu –>
<!– /most-read –>
could not find any article comments. exiting.
<!– /most-commented –>
<!– /most-recent –>
<!– /container –>
<!– /most-read-commented –>
<!– /module-facebook-linkedin –>
<!– start tweetswind code –>
<!–In accordance with the Terms of Service, please display the link within the page.–>
<!– end tweetswind code –>
<!– /column-sidebar –>
<!– /content-shadow –>
<!– /content –>
<!– /page –>
<!– /wrapper –>
<!– /footer-inner –>
<!– /corporate-inner –>
<!– /corporate –>
<!– /footer –>
<!– Tag for Activity Group: Remarketing, Activity Name: Campaigns & Elections Home RM, Activity ID: 884062 –>
<!– Expected URL: http://www.campaignsandelections.com/
Activity ID: 884062
Activity Name: Campaigns & Elections Home RM
Activity Group Name: Remarketing
Start of DoubleClick Floodlight Tag: Please do not remove
Activity name of this tag: Campaigns & Elections Home RM
URL of the webpage where the tag is expected to be placed: http://www.campaignsandelections.com/
This tag must be placed between the <body> and </body> tags, as close as possible to the opening tag.
Creation Date: 08/18/2011
<!– End of DoubleClick Floodlight Tag: Please do not remove –>