As of 8 a.m. Pacific Time, 23 Blue Dogs from New York to Arizona had lost their seats in a wave that brought down at least 61 Democrats and gave Republicans a pre-recount House majority of 240-195 after four years of Democratic control. It is the first time since Senators were directly elected under the 17th Amendment in 1914 that the House has changed party majorities but the Senate has not.
In addition to the 23 Blue Dogs defeated at the polls, four others had chosen not to run, and two made unsuccessful runs for the Senate. All were replaced by Republicans, bringing the total Blue Dog losses to 29. Twenty-five Blue Dogs managed to hang onto their seats, although for some - for example, Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona - it was a narrow victory. More than half the caucus, including two of its leaders, will thus be gone when the 112th Congress is seated in January. The reconstituted caucus will comprise only 13 percent of the Democrats in the House as compared with the 21 percent it does now.
Since the 79-member Progressive Caucus saw only four of its members defeated, the partisan divide likely will be sharper than in the current House and Speaker John Boehner will find fewer allies across the aisle willing to give cover to Republican initiatives. With the Senate still in Democratic hands, most of those initiatives aren't likely to go far anyway. But the gridlock will also mean slim chance of passing even ameliorative actions such as extending unemployment benefits, much less funding programs such as direct government hiring of a modernized WPA/CCC that the Obama administration should have pushed Congress to approve during its first six months in office. Nor will there be any way to pass legislation to eviscerate the pernicious Citizens United ruling. The list of what should have been done, and should still be done, but now definitely won't be done in the next two years is a long one.
Blue Dogs hoping their dilute-everything, obstructionist "moderation" would persuade voters to keep them in office found out that works as well as seeking bipartisan harmony with the current crop of elected Republicans. But the silver lining is that those Republicans - now in the majority - have a year or so to make good on their ludicrous vows to fix the economy they deny having done so much to wreck and to make all the other magical fixes they implicitly promised in the just-finished campaign. When this inevitably fails, the voters will be ready to throw them out (again). Liberals, meanwhile, have the same amount of time to identify districts where better Democrats than many of those who just lost their seats can be elected with the proper organizing, funding and messaging. Overcoming the deluge of money the Republicans will have at their disposal thanks to rightist billionaires and a rightist 5-4 Supreme Court ruling will be no easy task. But, as Meg Whitman just found out in California, money ain't everything.
As for the departed Blue Dogs, we can do without their sabotage which did so much to deliver House Democrats into the minority. Only seven of the defeated 22 had served more than two terms in the House. Rep. Gene Taylor (MI-04), the longest serving defeated member, was first elected in 1988. So was John Tanner, who opted out of running this year. But 16 of them were first elected in 2006 or 2008. Here they all are, with the year they were first elected.
Mike Arcuri (NY-24) 2006; R. Marion Berry (AR-01)
(Retired) 1996; Allen Boyd (FL-02) 1996; Bobby
Bright (AL-02) 2008; Christopher Carney (PA-10)
2006; Travis Childers (MS-01)
2008; Jim Costa (CA-20) 2004; Kathy Dahlkemper (PA-03) 2008;
Lincoln Davis (TN-04)
2002; Brad Ellsworth (IN-08)
(Ran for Senate) 2006; Bart Gordon (TN-06)
(Retired) 1984; Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (SD)
2004; Baron Hill (IN-09)
1998 through 2004, 2006;Frank Kratovil, Jr. (MD-01)
2008; Betsey Markey (CO-04) 2008; Jim Marshall (GA-08) 2002; Charlie Melancon (LA-03)
(Ran for Senate) 2004; Walt Minnick (ID-01) 2008; Harry
2006; Dennis Moore (KS-03)
(Retired) 1998; Patrick Murphy (PA-08) 2006; Scott Murphy (NY-20) 2008;
Glenn Nye (VA-02) 2008; Earl Pomeroy (ND)
1992; John Salazar (CO-03)
2004; Zack Space (OH-18)
2006; John Tanner (TN-08) (Retired) 1988; Gene Taylor (MS-04)
1988; Charles Wilson (OH-06) 2006.
The four members of the Progressive Caucus who lost: Alan Grayson (FL-08) 2008; Phil Hare (IL-17) 2006; Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (MI-13) (defeated in primary) 1996; and John Hall (NY-24) 2006.