The headline at New York mag says it all. Baghdad Bob just e-mailed me: “Make her stop.”
How bad is it going to be? Here’s the new data from Pew. Note the trends in both columns.
Among independents, the GOP leads by 19 points; by comparison, in 2006 Democrats led by just seven points among indies. And in competitive districts, the Republican advantage is now an even dozen. As for Pelosi’s speakership, Jay Cost counters the conventional wisdom that she might be out even if the Dems somehow hold on to the majority by asking a more important question. Let’s say the Blue Dogs do force her out. In that case, what changes? Why … nothing:
Nancy Pelosi is not the problem with the Democratic caucus in the United States House of Representatives. Rather, her speakership is a symptom of the problem, which is that the power structure in the party caucus is tilted far to the left of the swing voters who empowered congressional Democrats back in 2006…
If you are wondering why a political party elected to fix the economy instead committed itself to a massively unpopular health care reform that has been a liberal dream since 1946, this graph is a big part of the answer. Sixty-nine House districts gave Obama 70 percent of the vote or more (compared to 21 districts that went so heavily for George W. Bush in 2004). The Democrats in these districts occupy the safest districts in the entire country. No Republican wave can possibly breach their defenses. Accordingly, their political incentives revolve entirely around liberal pressure groups and Democratic clients like the labor unions – and not at all around the swing voters who determine control of the government. They are free to chase the ghosts of FDR, Truman, and LBJ, so long as organized labor supports it…
Suppose the Democrats do indeed dump Pelosi, and elevate Steny Hoyer. What changes? Hoyer would bring a different style of leadership that would probably not be as nasty, but he would ironically be representing an even more liberal House caucus. If the GOP picks up a net of 38 seats, and the Democrats hold the majority, the liberal percentage of the Democratic caucus will go up, not down. It will be moderates like Altmire who will get booted from the chamber, while liberals like John Conyers will continue to enjoy lifetime leases on their seats. Hoyer might be a nicer person than the graceless Pelosi, but he’ll still be obliged to battle on behalf of the majority of the caucus, which will become more liberal, not less!
Unless you’re ready to take on gerrymandering, which would limit the phenomenon of deep blue/deep red (but not entirely end it), there’s little to be done to make the Democrats’ core House caucus less monolithically liberal than it is. Bear that in mind if/when the Dems regain the majority and Blue Dogs start swearing up and down that this time things will be different.