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What Sets The Vulnerable Democrats Apart?

The Center For Responsive Politics categorizes the following as incumbents facing “tossup” races, too close to call, for the U.S. House of Representatives:

Earl PomeroyThat’s My Congress Progressive Score 22 out of 100
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin – Progressive Score 28
Steve Kagen – Progressive Score 38
Mark Schauer – Progressive Score 31
Michael Arcuri – Progressive Score 34
Carol Shea-Porter – Progressive Score 53
Michael McMahon – Progressive Score 38
Patrick Murphy – Progressive Score 41
Chris Carney – Progressive Score 22
Paul Kanjorski – Progressive Score 25
Kathy Dahlkemper – Progressive Score 25
John Boccieri – Progressive Score 31
Joe Donnelly – Progressive Score 19
Debbie Halvorson – Progressive Score 28
Bill Foster – Progressive Score 34
Phil Hare – Progressive Score 59
Leonard Boswell – Progressive Score 31
John Salazar – Progressive Score 28
Frank Kratovil – Progressive Score 25
larry Kissel – Progressive Score 28
John Spratt – Progressive Score 25
Jim Marshall – Progressive Score 16
Travis Childers – Progressive Score 13
Chet Edwards – Progressive Score 25
Harry Teague – Progressive Score 19
Ann Kirkpatrick – Progressive Score 28
Harry Mitchell – Progressive Score 31
Dina Titus – Progressive Score 38
Allen Boyd – Progressive Score 25
Alan Grayson – Progressive Score 44

One thing stands out right away about this group: It’s not very progressive. Their average progressive rating is only 30. Only two of this year’s vulnerable Democrats have a progressive rating above 50, Carol Shea Porter barely above that mark at 53, and Phil Hare, only a little higher at 59.

The highest progressive rating for the current House of Representatives is 81. The lowest progressive rating is for Mark Critz, a relatively new member, at 0. The group of vulnerable Democratic incumbents in tossup races skews toward the right.

It’s as good an indication as any that the Blue Dog tactic of registering as a Democrat but legislating like a Republican is not a politically sustainable option. To the extent that voters are rejecting Democrats in Congress, it seems to be because they’re not progressive enough.

5 thoughts on “What Sets The Vulnerable Democrats Apart?”

  1. Jim says:

    Isn’t it also possible to conclude that not-too-progressive Democrats are running in these districts because they’re the only Democrats that can possibly win, because the districts are conservative?

    How would we tell the difference?

  2. J. Clifford says:

    Okay, that’s one possible interpretation, but isn’t it an interpretation that’s impossible to prove? I mean, have progressive Democrats ever run in those districts?

    Even if your interpretation is correct, the implication is the same: Running conservative Democrats doesn’t make Democrats immune from Republican criticism. I mean, if these conservative Democrats are such winners, how come they’re not, you know, winning?

    1. Jim says:

      I wonder what the margins of victory were for those elections.

      1. J. Clifford says:

        Good question. Maybe I can look into that. But then, one election – the 2008 election – isn’t necessary representative of a district over time.

  3. RICHARD says:

    The bozo in my district, who is next to the last on your list, got my vote as I held my nose only because the Republican who is running against him is the kind of right wing ideologue whom I cannot stand, and wouldn’t even want to give a chance to “represent” me in DC… Have to wait until next time to get rid of that yellow dog…

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