Saturday, December 27, 2008

Why 60 Seats in the Senate Didn't Matter

There much to do about Democrats winning 60 seats in the US Senate this past election (it's looking like they will have 59 seats once Al Franken is declared the winner in Minnesota). However, 60 seats was more a milestone and would have not really mattered much because of a group of conservative Democrats that vote against the party.

I am not a fan of Joe Liberman at all. Yet, there are at least 6 Democratic Senators that vote with the Democratic Caucus less than Lieberman. Lieberman voted with the Democratic Caucus 81% of the time. These Senators voted with the Democratic caucus less than Lieberman...

  • Evan Bayh of Indiana votes with Democrats 65% of the time
  • Mary Landrieu of Louisiana votes with Democrats 69% of the time
  • Ben Nelson of Nebraska votes wtih Democrats 72% of the time
  • Mark Pryor of Arkansas votes wtih Democrats 79% of the time
  • Tim Johnson of South Dakota votes with Democrats 80% of the time
  • Tom Carper of Delaware votes with Democrats 80% of the time
Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas voted with the Democratic Caucus the same percentage of time as Lieberman at 81%.

It always seemed that Republicans could strong arm members of their own party into voting with the Republican Caucus, but this is not the case with Democrats. There are questions of party unity on key Democratic legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act, where Democrat (?) Blanche Lincoln is not sure if she will support it.

This just shows that electing better Democrats is just as important as electing more Democrats.


Ben said...

Assuming their votes are based on their convictions and not cynical political motivations, I can't think of anything more
"democratic" then an elected official voting their conscience.

noneed4thneed said...

Read some of these posts for my thoughts on those that claim to be centrists...

Ben said...

I've read (and now reread) almost all your posts with the centrist tag. My point, however, wasn't that "centrists" had superior views or that they were more in line with polling numbers. It may be that the "centrists" you cite might actually -believe- what they're voting. I'd rather have a elected official vote their beliefs then switch their vote to reflected some political calculus. It is possible, after all, for intelligent, well-intentioned people to actually disagree with the Democratic party.

I will grant you that my primary assumption that their voting record reflects their convictions may be faulty. It is entirely possible that they are voting the way the campaign money tells them too regardless of what they might actually think.

Ben said...

I would also point out that most of the Senators you mentioned comes from a fairly republican leaning state. I don't have numbers, but is it possible they actually reflect their constiuencies?

noneed4thneed said...

I got a lot of points...

1. The problem is these conservative Democrats undermine the Democratic message and help push the myth that this is a conservative nation.

Democrats like Jon Tester, Jim Webb, Byron Dorgan, Russ Feingold, and Paul Wellstone represented rural, red-leaning states and still hold Democratic principles and strong convictions.

2. A key example is Arlen Spector, a moderate Republican in a swing state. Specter faced a tough primary from the far right because he strayed from the party too much.

3. Democrats must have the votes from Bayh, Landrieu, Nelson, Pryor, and Licoln, McCaskill, and Carper to pass key legislation like the employee free choice act, universal health care, end the war, fix No Child Left Behind, etc. Their voting records show that this isn't a sure deal.

Getting 60 votes wouldn't have made anything Fillibuster proof because chances are some of these conservative Democrats will vote with the Republicans.