The Democratic Majority's Achillies Heel - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Democratic Majority’s Achillies Heel

This Charlie Cook column is a good indicator of why the Democrats’ fortunes have turned so quickly: While they benefited from running candidates who weren’t too liberal for their districts in 2006 and 2008, it is creating problems for them now. Too high a percentage of their majority is based on “reach” districts rather than realigned districts, damaging their party unity now and creating Republican pickup opportunities next year.

When the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, a lot of their House seats were gained in conservative — particularly Southern — congressional districts that had historically been represented by Democrats during the time period when the parties were less homogeneously liberal and conservative than they are today. The Democrats did some of this too, wiping out a majority of Northeastern Republicans and making New England a Republican-free zone except for the two ladies from Maine. But that has been more of a gradual process than the GOP’s ’94 juggernaut. What gave the Democrats really big wins was taking purple districts that in many cases continue to be Republican in their presidential voting habits.

As Cook notes, 48 House Democrats represent districts that voted for Bush in 2004 and McCain in 2008. Barring a huge political reversal, they are not all going down in 2010. But a decent number of them will, even if the economy is seen as rebounding and Obama’s numbers are respectable nationwide. And others in this group will find it difficult to be reliable votes for their party on either health care or cap and trade, to say nothing of numerous other controversial issues.

The Republicans took heat for building a majority that was too Southern and too conservative, alienating other ideological flavors and regions of the country while forcing their moderates to cast too many tough votes. The Democrats may be discovering the pitfalls of the Rahm Emanuel strategy, which ma also force their moderates to cast too many tough votes. The one major advantage the Democrats have over the Republicans is that they have a bigger majority than the GOP ever did, giving them greater flexibilty to let their members vote against the party leadership to protect their own political hides.

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