Monday, November 9, 2009

The Blue Dog Balance of Power

The conservative Blue Dog Coalition is ostensibly part of the Democratic Party but could be regarded as a third legislative party that holds a crucial balance of power in the U.S. House of Representatives.

By Party, here is the breakdown in the House:


But a number of Democrats identify as members of the Blue Dog Coalition, which has its won leaders and whip. The Blue Dogs can perhaps best be thought of as a third party that is currently aligned with other Democrats on many issues but which can and often does align with Republicans on others.

When split into three parties, the Democrats do not have an outright majority of 218 in the House:

Regular Democrats206
Blue Dog Coalition52

Moreover, there are a number of Democrats who are not officially members of the Blue Dog Coalition but tend to vote with them. So the exact balance of power is difficult to peg.

The coalition with the Democratic Party is an uneasy one. Iowa Blue Dog Leonard Boswell faced having his rural congressional district carved and divided during redistricting after the 2000 census. He responded by moving to Des Moines and won in that district. Then he was primaried in 2008, being forced to run against a more liberal Democrat, Ed Fallon. But he beat Ed 61% to 39% in the primary and fought off Republican Kim Schmett in the general 57% to 42%.

The Blue Dogs even have a muse, cajun artist George Rodrigue. His Turn Out the Lights, the Party's Over (2008) can be found at this link.

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