|For hypothetical purposes, if all of these Democrats lost to Republicans, and there was no other switch in the partisan control of any seat in Congress, the power balance within the Democratic House caucus would shift as follows:
Three major Democratic ideological House caucuses as a percentage of overall Democratic caucus (full voting House members, only)
In this scenario, the overall Democratic advantage drops to a narrow, 224-211. Blue Dogs become a smaller percentage of the overall Democratic caucus, New Dems remain about the same, and Progressives noticeably increase their share.
Now, this would not necessarily weaken overall Blue Dog power. First, they could easily replenish their numbers, as there are many members of the House who want to be in the Blue Dogs but whose applications were rejected. Second, with a smaller overall Democratic majority, fewer Blue Dogs would be needed to create a Republican plus Blue Dog majority.
However, what if we were to tweak this situation with successful activism on behalf of House Progressives? For example, what if Grayson, Hall and Massa were all able to hold onto their seats, if Progressives won primary challenges against Blue Dogs Jane Harman and John Barrow, if Progressives won the open seat in AL-07 and one other Democratic district, and if Progressives were able to take over Republican held seats in LA-02, IL-10, DE-AL, and one other blue district?
In that scenario, Democrats would hold a 231-204 majority. Progressives would become 39.0% of the caucus, New Dems 23.8%, and Blue Dogs 16.5%. In fact, given the significant cross-over between the New Dems and Blue Dogs, there would actually be slightly more House Democrats in the Progressive Caucus than in the New Dem or Blue Dogs caucus combined (although I should note there are a handful of House Democrats who are both New Dems and Progressives).
In a year where Democrats seem likely to suffer at least some House losses, the idea that Progressives could actually gain seats is intriguing and hopeful. We could then follow-up in 2012 by running more Progressives against Republicans, and winning many of the numerous primary challenges that will inevitably result from redistricting. Suddenly, a Blue Dog-proof majority in the House by 2012 actually seems like a possibility.
It will take a lot of work, but the progressive electoral infrastructure to make this happen in strengthening all the time. Certainly, it will be a top project of Open Left over the next three years.