Blue-Dog Democrats Face Midterm 'Massacre'

Thursday, 28 Oct 2010 12:16 PM

By David A. Patten

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The magnitude of the GOP wave on Nov. 2 remains unknown, but one harsh reality is already crashing in on moderate and conservative congressional Democrats: Blue dogs are expected to become an endangered species after Nov. 2.

MSNBC analyst, columnist, and author Patrick J. Buchanan recently used the term "massacre" to describe the fate that awaits members of the Blue Dog Coalition.

Democratic pollster and Fox News commentator Douglas Schoen tells Newsmax that blue dogs face electoral "carnage."

And respected political analyst Charlie Cook says that the next blue dog meeting can be held in "a really small room" — meaning there won't be many of them left.

Editor's Note: See "Profiles in Courage: 10 Democrats Opposing Obama"

That blue dog ranks would suffer major losses this Election Day may seem somewhat counterintuitive. After all, many of them voted against healthcare reform, energy cap & trade, and other elements of the Obama agenda that grass-roots conservatives found so objectionable.

This midterm, however, the blunt truths of politics are expected to outweigh nuanced votes cast on the floor of the House.

"My belief is that most of the blue dogs will be euthanized on Tuesday, and the kennels will fall silent," conservative columnist and author Patrick J. Buchanan tells Newsmax.

One reason it's open season on relatively conservative Democrats: The party expanded base in Congress by recruiting candidates from traditional GOP strongholds like Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee.

This year, the Republican enthusiasm edge is expected to spur strong GOP turnout in those districts. And that's very bad news for middle-of-the-road Democrats who find themselves wearing the wrong color jerseys this year.
Consider that according to RealClearPolitics, of the 65 members of the Blue Dog Coalition, 12 have races rated as "toss ups," and 14 more are listed as likely to swing to the GOP.

That means 40 percent of blue dogs are very susceptible to defeat on Nov. 2.

The poster child for this year's blue-dog dilemma is South Dakota Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

herseth,sandlin,kristi,noem,blue,dog,democrats,massacre,schoen,buchanan,fox,msnbc,midterms,gopTwo years ago, she won her race going away with 68 percent of the vote. In Congress, she voted against healthcare reform and energy cap & trade.
This year, however, she's in a fight for her life against GOP challenger Kristi Noem. Some polls show Noem leading by as much as 5 points. Others indicate Herseth Sandlin is up by as much as 3 points. The race is too close to call.

The pressure is so great this year that some moderate Democrats are running ads touting their opposition to healthcare reform. Others are trying to assuage voters' ire by pledging not to vote for Nancy Pelosi to return as House Speaker, if Democrats somehow hold on to the majority.

"I expect carnage, serious carnage," Democratic pollster and Fox News contributor Douglas Schoen tells Newsmax, who says if current trends continue the GOP will gain 55 to 60 seats on Election Day.

Buchanan asked political guru Charlie Cook on MSNBC's Morning Joe just how bad things look for the blue dogs.

Cook response: "I think the blue dogs — and I think that they play a very positive role in this Congress — but I think they're going to be able to have their meetings in a really small room once this is all over with. They're going to be more than 'blue dog' singular, but there aren't going to be very many of them."

The semi-demise of the blue dogs this cycle could well have a major impact on the remainder of President Obama's presidency. Without its moderates, the gravitational pull of the Democratic caucus will be that much stronger to the left. That could make it difficult for President Obama to strike deals with the more right-leaning Republicans in the 112th Congress.

"The question I would have," Cook said on MSNBC, "is even if [Ohio Rep. John] Boehner and [Maryland Democrat Steny] Hoyer sat down together and tried to work out an arrangement, I'm not sure either one of them could make their deal stick within their caucus. Because the Republican caucus is going to be a heck of a lot more conservative than Boehner, and the Democratic one a lot more liberal than Steny Hoyer. And then the president is down at the other end of the avenue."

Buchanan tells Newsmax that minus the blue dogs, the chances for compromises with the Obama administration look slim.

"The Democratic Party in the House will be a bruised, battered and bitter party, more liberal than it is today, a scorched party which will not be amenable to compromises with an exultant right-wing and tea party Republicans, who want to take an ax to social programs that are the pride of the Democratic Party.

"The anger and nastiness of the 2010 campaign will, I think, endure into the New Year. MSNBC and Fox will not be smoking peace pipes anytime soon," he says.


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