House DINOs: a little paleontology

My first piece on Saturday exploring the key votes identified by our Chris earlier in the year suggested that the numbers might be worth mining.

Further work has indeed brought up one or two things of interest.

The purpose, be it said, of these inquiries is not mere academic interest: if, as we all expect, the Dems take control of the 110th House, a key factor in their success - and their chances of extending their franchise - will be how much solidarity the Dem leadership can command on key votes.

(There are loads of votes in the House each year which are not key votes: in the sense of being on bills which are on insignificant topics (naming post offices is a favorite), bills which are motherhood and apple pie, and procedural votes (on special rules, and on the previous question) on which leaderships are more or less guaranteed the support of their troops regardless of ideology or personality.)

Now, the degree of agenda control which the rules of the House afford to the majority party leadership is impressive, usually ineluctable.

But - as I've explored before, and will do again - there is some room for a cross-party coalition to defy the will of the majority leadership in order to pass a bill. (The example always quoted is the 1981 Reagan budget - which I'll deal with later in this series (if it holds up that long!).)

Clearly, there is no chance of such a coalition emerging where there is not a minority of the majority party which is prepared to vote against its leadership.

The Bowers' 2005 key votes are a dataset in which that willingness might be gauged.

The top 30 Dem reps (listed in descending order of votes against their party) are these (percentages for both the Kerry vote and that of each rep are for the two-party vote):

  Kerry %Rep %Anti VotesAL-5CRAMER 39.773.122OK-2BOREN 40.665.921TN-4DAVIS 41.655.721TX-28CUELLAR 47.560.521GA-3MARSHALL 44.362.919MS-4TAYLOR 31.365.019UT-2MATHESON 32.255.919TX-17EDWARDS 31.051.917GA-12BARROW 53.951.816MN-7PETERSON 43.866.116NC-7MCINTYRE 43.973.216TN-6GORDON 39.965.616CA-20COSTA 51.153.415IL-8BEAN 44.351.715GA-2BISHOP 46.166.814LA-3MELANCON 41.5100.014MO-4SKELTON 35.467.114PA-17HOLDEN 41.960.314TN-8TANNER 46.974.414TN-9FORD 69.982.114AR-4ROSS 48.053.413FL-2BOYD 45.861.613GA-13SCOTT 64.2100.013AR-1BERRY 47.766.612CA-18CARDOZA 49.967.512CO-3SALAZAR 44.252.012HI-2CASE 55.962.812KY-6CHANDLER 41.359.412SD-ALHERSETH 39.153.812TN-5COOPER 52.269.311       45.265.0459

Now, it's certainly true that the Kerry 04 score (which is the two-party vote) for around half of the Top 30 came within 10 points or so of the Bush 04 score. But in 10 of the CDs, Kerry got only just over 40% or less of the two-party vote:

  Kerry %Rep %Anti VotesTN-9FORD 69.982.114GA-13SCOTT 64.2100.013HI-2CASE 55.962.812GA-12BARROW 53.951.816TN-5COOPER 52.269.311CA-20COSTA 51.153.415CA-18CARDOZA 49.967.512AR-4ROSS 48.053.413AR-1BERRY 47.766.612TX-28CUELLAR 47.560.521TN-8TANNER 46.974.414GA-2BISHOP 46.166.814FL-2BOYD 45.861.613GA-3MARSHALL 44.362.919IL-8BEAN 44.351.715CO-3SALAZAR 44.252.012NC-7MCINTYRE 43.973.216MN-7PETERSON 43.866.116PA-17HOLDEN 41.960.314TN-4DAVIS 41.655.721LA-3MELANCON 41.5100.014KY-6CHANDLER 41.359.412OK-2BOREN 40.665.921TN-6GORDON 39.965.616AL-5CRAMER 39.773.122SD-ALHERSETH 39.153.812MO-4SKELTON 35.467.114UT-2MATHESON 32.255.919MS-4TAYLOR 31.365.019TX-17EDWARDS 31.051.917

Perhaps some of those Dems with the higher Kerry scores could be vulnerable in a Lamont-style primary in 08; in the meantime, I expect most of them (obviously not Ford and Case!) will be reelected to the 110th and represent an opportunity for the GOP minority leadership, at the very least, to threaten mischief.

Of the Top 30, 26 are Blue Dogs, 10 are NDC, 2 (Ford and Bishop) are CBC: nine NDC are also Blue Dogs.

Now, I'm not suggesting that there will be any precipitate movement on the party of any faction of Dem reps to kiss up to the GOP leadership: for one thing, internal questions like leadership elections and committee assignments will bulk large in the weeks following the election.

Perhaps the GOP will fall to pieces, and won't be in a position to take advantage of any inclination to rebel amongst some Dems.

What the Top 30 (and others somewhat below them in the list) represent is a group of folks with whom the GOP might seek to find common ground on specific issues.

The futility of any formal Conservative Coalition was shown in the times (40s, early 50s) when the term was in use: party allegiances are too strong to deny formally.

But they are not (in the system as it's stood for decades) incompatible with failures of discipline in particular cases.

(Much as, so the saying goes, a tax system breathes through its loophooles.

Mind you, I doubt that's a very popular sentiment in the IRS!)

More to come.

Tags: Blue Dogs, Building a Real House Majority, CBC, CPC, Democrats in 109th House, NDC, Roll Call Votes (all tags)



Re: House DINOs: a little paleontology

Thank goodness we got rid of Ed Case here in Hawaii--at least we can scratch him off the list.

by burroughs 2006-11-06 04:41PM | 0 recs
Re: House DINOs: a little paleontology

Interesting... I don't have much to say (lots going on right now), but I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

by aip 2006-11-06 05:00PM | 0 recs
Re: House DINOs: a little paleontology

The democrats have been out of power for twelve years. The boll weevils and their wannabes have either switched to the republican party (Bob Stump, Phil Graham, Nathan Deal, Rodney Alexander, Ralph Hall, Wes Watkins, Virgil Goode) or been betrayed by the republicans (Charlie Stenholm comes to mind). Given the way republicans treated the democrats, I can't imagine that many, or any, of the people on your list would be interested in finding common cause with the republican party beyond what is needed to secure their seats. In the senate, it might be a different story.

by JRyan 2006-11-07 10:23AM | 0 recs


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