Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Evan In The Middle

There has been an interesting development on a subject about which I've written a few posts on this blog, i.e., ideological diversity within the Democratic Party.

Democrats had majorities in both houses of Congress for most of the period from the 1930s to the 1990s. But most of the real power during those years rested with the so-called Conservative Coalition of northern Republicans and southern Democrats (for more details, click here).

In that post, I speculated about whether recent Democratic gains would again produce an ideological divide among Democrats. It seems as though that is now happening to some extent. As Democrats have expanded their majority in the Senate, they've won seats in such places as North Carolina, Montana, Colorado, Alaska, etc. Some of those new senators have joined up with veteran moderate Democrats such as Evan Bayh of Indiana, to form an informal moderate caucus.

I don't think that the rift will be as big as it was between northern and southern Democrats during the Conservative Coalition era, but this new group should be able to have a moderating influence on legislation backed by the White House and the Democratic Senate leadership.

Up to now, it has looked as though Majority Leader Harry Reid would continue to be engaged in picking off a handful of northeastern Republicans, whenever a cloture vote is needed. With this new development, he may occasionally struggle just to put together a 51-vote majority among the Democrats.

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