The Blue Dog Caucus was decimated five times over last night. To be "decimated" is to lose 10% of one's troops. The Blue Dogs lost more than 50% (just shy of 50% who were running, with a few races still undecided):
In a fell swoop, the once-powerful Blue Dog caucus of conservative House Democrats was reduced from 54 members to 26 in Tuesday's midterm election.
The caucus lost two members to retirement and two others who ran for higher office, and out of the remaining 50 members, 24 Blue Dogs lost.
There were still a few Blue Dogs in tight races that had yet to be called early on Wednesday morning. There is the potential for more losses, though most of them look likely to hold on.
Two members of the leadership - Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin of South Dakota and Rep. Baron Hill of Indiana - both lost to Republican challengers.
Two other leaders of the group - Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina and Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah - survived the bloodbath election.
Despite this unprecedented bloodbath, there is little doubt that the narratives will favor the Blue Dogs, however. Even before the election, the NY Times had selected Evan Bayh for the place of honor, telling the Dems what they had done wrong:
It is clear that Democrats over-interpreted our mandate. Talk of a "political realignment" and a "new progressive era" proved wishful thinking. Exit polls in 2008 showed that 22 percent of voters identified themselves as liberals, 32 percent as conservatives and 44 percent as moderates. An electorate that is 76 percent moderate to conservative was not crying out for a move to the left.
This sort of reliance on labels, rather than values and issue positions is one of the symptomatic delusions of political class, despite the fact that political scientists have known for 40+ years that a majority of conservatives are supoporters of the welfare state. Anyone who writes like this is a political illiterate. Of course that includes virtually all of Versailles. But there you go, then.
We also overreached by focusing on health care rather than job creation during a severe recession. It was a noble aspiration, but $1 trillion in new spending and a major entitlement expansion are best attempted when the Treasury is flush and the economy strong, hardly our situation today.
Yes, FDR made a terrible mistake instituting Social Security in the midst of the Great Depression. It ensured his landslide defeat in the 1936 election, as everybody knows.