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News from the Votemaster

Who Are the Blue Dogs?     Permalink

There has been a lot of discussion in recent months about whether the conservative Democrats in the House, most of them members of the Blue Dog Coalition, will scuttle or weaken the health reform bill floating around Congress. The Blue Dogs are not a homogeneous group. Some were elected in heavily Republican districts and feel they have to vote like Republicans to survive. Others are from strongly Democratic districts and are just conservative by nature, rather than reflecting their district's composition. Here is the list of Blue Dogs, the PVIs of their districts, their margin of victory in the 2008 election, and the amount Obama won (positive numbers) or lost (negative numbers) their district. The freshmen (freshpersons?) and sophomores are shown in a light blue color. These are members who have run only during Democratic wave elections and may be the most vulnerable, especially in a midterm that is likely to favor the Republicans on the whole. Since the President's party generally loses seats in the midterm election, these are the people whose job is on the line and whose vote on the health bill may determine their fate.

CD* Incumbent (D) PVI Margin 08 Obama-McCain Elected
MS-04 Gene Taylor (D) R+20 50% -36% 1988
ID-01 Walt Minnick (D) R+18 2% -26% 2008
AL-02 Bobby Bright (D) R+16 1% -27% 2008
UT-02 Jim Matheson (D) R+15 28% -18% 2000
MS-01 Travis Childers (D) R+14 10% -24% 2008
OK-02 Dan Boren (D) R+14 40% -32% 2004
MD-01 Frank Kratovil (D) R+13 1% -18% 2008
TN-04 Lincoln Davis (D) R+13 21% -30% 2002
TN-06 Bart Gordon (D) R+13 100% -25% 1984
AL-05 Parker Griffith (D) R+12 4% -23% 2008
LA-03 Charlie Melancon (D) R+12 100% -24% 2004
GA-08 Jim Marshall (D) R+10 14% -13% 2002
ND-AL Earl Pomeroy (D) R+10 24% -8% 1992
KY-06 Ben Chandler (D) R+9 30% -12% 2004
SD-AL Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D) R+9 36% -8% 2004
AR-01 Marion Berry (D) R+8 100% -21% 1996
IN-08 Brad Ellsworth (D) R+8 30% -4% 2006
PA-10 Christopher Carney (D) R+8 12% -9% 2006
AR-04 Mike Ross (D) R+7 100% -19% 2000
OH-18 Zack Space (D) R+7 20% -7% 2006
FL-02 Allen Boyd (D) R+6 24% -9% 1996
IN-09 Baron Hill (D) R+6 20% -1% 1998
NC-11 Heath Shuler (D) R+6 26% -5% 2006
PA-04 Jason Altmire (D) R+6 12% -11% 2006
PA-17 Tim Holden (D) R+6 28% -3% 1992
TN-08 John Tanner (D) R+6 100% -13% 1988
AZ-05 Harry Mitchell (D) R+5 9% -5% 2006
CO-03 John Salazar (D) R+5 22% -3% 2004
MN-07 Collin Peterson (D) R+5 44% -3% 1990
NC-07 Mike McIntyre (D) R+5 38% -5% 1996
VA-02 Glenn Nye (D) R+5 4% 2% 2006
AZ-08 Gabrielle Giffords (D) R+4 12% -6% 2006
KS-03 Dennis Moore (D) R+3 16% 3% 1998
PA-03 Kathy Dahlkemper (D) R+3 4% 0% 2008
IN-02 Joe Donnelly (D) R+2 37% 9% 2006
NY-24 Mike Arcuri (D) R+2 2% 3% 2006
OH-06 Charles Wilson (D) R+2 29% -2% 2006
TX-28 Henry Cuellar (D) R+0 40% 12% 2004
GA-02 Sanford Bishop (D) D+1 38% 8% 1992
GA-12 John Barrow (D) D+1 32% 9% 2004
IA-03 Leonard Boswell (D) D+1 14% 10% 1996
PA-08 Patrick Murphy (D) D+2 15% 9% 2006
ME-02 Mike Michaud (D) D+3 34% 12% 2002
TN-05 Jim Cooper (D) D+3 35% 13% 2002
CA-18 Dennis Cardoza (D) D+4 100% 20% 2002
CA-47 Loretta Sanchez (D) D+4 40% 22% 1996
CA-20 Jim Costa (D) D+5 46% 21% 2004
CA-36 Jane Harman (D) D+12 38% 30% 2000
CA-01 Mike Thompson (D) D+13 44% 34% 1998
CA-43 Joe Baca (D) D+13 36% 38% 1998
CA-29 Adam Schiff (D) D+14 44% 38% 2002
GA-13 David Scott (D) D+15 38% 43% 2002

Clearly Democrats near the top of the list (strongly Republican districts) with a small margin of victory have to be very careful. Walt Minnick (D-ID) is in an R+18 district and won by only 2%. He has to watch out. Similarly, Bobby Bright in an R+16 district and who won by only 1% is equally vulnerable. Frank Kratovil and Parker Griffith have similar problems.

On the other hand, Gene Taylor (D-MS) and Jim Matheson (D-UT) are from deeply red states and deeply red districts, but won their 2008 elections by 50% and 28% margins respectively, so clearly they are personally popular and will be very hard to dislodge.

Near the bottom of the list we find seven Californians from Dennis Cardoza to Adam Schiff who are in (strongly) Democratic districts and who won in 2008 by big margins. They are not vulnerable at all and their districts are not forcing them to be Blue Dogs. They are just conservative by nature and it seems to be working for them. People like that may be easier to peel off to vote for the health reform bill since nothing bad will happen to them if they do, whereas for Minnick, such a vote probably means the end of his career.

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