The 2010 congressional elections should have sent a clear message to Democrats in Congress: Voters don’t like Blue Dogs. The Blue Dog Coalition, a right wing group of Democrats in the House of Representatives, spent the last two years blocking progressive legislation and forcing compromises that packed Democratic bills with policies favored by the Republicans.
The Blue Dog Democrats thought that if they voted like Republicans, they’d be able to capture independent voters and keep Democratic voters too. But, that’s not how it worked out. Democratic voters, disgusted with the Blue Dogs, didn’t volunteer or donate for members of the coalition, and didn’t turn out to vote for them.
Blue Dogs had a much worse performance in the 2010 elections than liberal Democrats did. The average margin of victory for Blue Dog Democrats in the House was far below the average margin of victory for other Democrats. The ranks of the Blue Dog Coalition are starkly diminished in the House.
At first, U.S. Representative Heath Shuler, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, seems to have understood the implications of the Blue Dogs’ electoral failure. “To take the same approach that we have during these last two years is not going to get us where we need to go as a party,” he says.
However, Shuler isn’t calling for the disintegration of the right wing Blue Dog Coalition. He’s actually attempting to get other Democrats in Congress to join in with the shrunken Blue Dog pack. Shuler is challenging Nancy Pelosi for the position of Speaker of the House on the grounds that the Democrats should be led by someone who will apply the Blue Dog strategy to the entire Democratic caucus.