This weekend, in an interview with Earl Hutchinson, U.S. Representative Lynn Woolsey, Co-Chair of the House Progressive Caucus, gave a stark comparison of the fate of her caucus and the fate of members of the Blue Dog Coalition. Woolsey noted: “We had 83 members before the election. It is bicameral with House and Senate members. It’s by far the largest caucus in Congress. We lost four members this election. But we also gained a couple of new members. We will not have less than 80 members in the next Congress. The Blue Dog Democrats lost almost two thirds of their members.”
Here are the actual numbers: In the 111th Congress, the Progressive Caucus had 80 members in the House of Representatives (and three senators, plus two additional non-voting members of the U.S. House in the caucus). After the election, the House has 79 members of the Progressive Caucus. That’s a loss of one member in the House, but it’s nothing compared to the loss of the Blue Dogs, who went from 54 members in the 111th Congress to 26 in the 112th Congress.
Keep in mind that the number of Democrats in general was decreased by the 2010 election, and you’ll see that the strength of the Progressive Caucus within the House Democrats was dramatically increased by the election, while the strength of Blue Dogs was radically diminished. In the 111th Congress, the Progressive Caucus made up 32 percent of House Democrats. In the 112th Congress, they will make up 41 percent of House Democrats. In the 111th Congress, Blue Dogs were 21 percent of House Democrats. In January, they won’t be quite 14 percent.
Over the next couple of years, the Blue Dogs won’t have the power to make or break legislation as they used to. The Progressive Caucus, on the other hand, will have more power to define what it means to be a Democrat on Capitol Hill.