The Democratic Party may have just gotten a lot smaller in the House, but the percentage of self-identified “progressive” members — the chamber’s most liberal group — increased dramatically as a result of Tuesday’s election.
Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus will comprise a significant plurality of House Democrats in 2011, possibly giving them a stronger voice within the party than they ever had before.
Of the 78 House members currently in the Progressive Caucus, only three will not return in January. With just 185 House Democrats left standing after Tuesday’s massacre, about 41 percent of Democratic House members in the 112th Congress will consist of self-identified progressives. There is also talk within the progressive liberal community that more Democrats are likely to join the caucus next year, giving them an even more robust voice within the party.
The election essentially purified the party of the few moderates who acted as roadblocks against bills that they saw as veering too far left. The Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus that claims the mantle of fiscal responsibility but has been criticized for not always practicing what it preaches, faced massive losses this election cycle. Next year, only half of the Democrats that labeled themselves as “moderates” will exist in Congress.
With conservative and Tea Party-backed candidates swelling the ranks of the Republican side of the aisle next year, it is easy to imagine that as the parties become more ideologically polarized, the level of legislative gridlock will only increase.