Michael Barone

But over the last decade, satisfaction with the political successes of Clinton-type governance were replaced by rage against the works and deeds of George W. Bush. That rage seemed vindicated when Democrats won congressional majorities in 2006 and when Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008 with a larger percentage of the popular vote than any Democratic nominee except Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.

The political philosopher James Carville wrote a book predicting Democratic dominance for 40 years. Daily Kos bloggers, spewing hatred, argued that the party could afford to purge the likes of Joe Lieberman and Jane Harman and the Blue Dog Democratic moderates in the House. Better off without them!

Maybe not. Of the 53 blue dogs in the 111th Congress, only 26 (including Harman) were re-elected in 2010. Another 21 were defeated for re-election, and all six Blue Dogs who retired were replaced by Republicans. If Democrats had held those 27 seats, they would still have a majority in the House.

For years now, Republican voters have disregarded the pundits urging them to nominate moderates, and practically the only Republican moderates left in Congress are Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and Scott Brown of Massachusetts. And it's notable that Brown won his upset victory early last year not by stressing his liberal stands on cultural issues but his opposition to Obamacare.

The constituencies targeted by moderate Republican strategists -- labor union members, high-income professionals, Jewish voters -- have grown smaller or have become heavily Democratic. Republicans have been able to win without them.

The constituencies targeted by DLC strategists -- Southern whites, urban ethnics, blue collar workers -- are growing or are not shrinking as much, and at least in 2010 they voted heavily Republican. It's not so clear that Democrats can win without them.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM