Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Exurban Democratic Class of the 110th

Molly Ivins made fun last month of conservative claims of victory in the last congressional election because of their theory that so many of the new Democratic class are conservative (she ends by asking conservative commentators to explain how the next Republican win will likewise be a victory for liberalism).

Ezra Klein over at The American Prospect Blog makes a comparative observation that undermines those claims of victory:
Pre-1994, Democrats had a powerful, large, and very senior block of conservative Southerners [in Congress] who not only controlled votes, but headed committees and wielded seniority. And they were a sight more conservative than this year's crop of [Democratic] suburban freshmen. Indeed, the decline of a serious Southern bloc among House Democrats should open the path to much more progressive legislation than was ever possible when the Dixiecrats needed to be continually placated. While indeed true that some -- and some is a key qualifier there -- of the frosh are a bit to the right of, say, [John] Dingell, they're not to his right by much, and they're not going to exercise the sort of hammerlock on the party's progressive wing that the Dixiecrats once did.
That's more than a slight wrench in the conservative spin of their losses in Congress last November.

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