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How Blue Are the Blue Dog Democrats?

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Congressional Quarterly's vote study for the first half of 2009 is in the books, and finds that House Democrats overall supported Barack Obama 91.1 percent of the time in which the President stated his clear policy preference on legislation that received a floor vote.

But what about the Blue Dog Democrats? How frequently did they part ways from the President?

More than a quarter of the Democratic Upper Midwestern delegation (4 of 15) belongs to the Blue Dog coalition: Collin Peterson (MN-07), Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD-AL), Earl Pomeroy (ND-AL), and Leonard Boswell (IA-03).

The 52-member coalition touts itself as fiscally conservative and representing the center of the House. Blue Dogs also claim to represent the mainstream values of the American public and are "dedicated to a core set of beliefs that transcend partisan politics."

Blue Dogs did indeed show less support for their President's policy preferences than House Democrats as a whole, but not by a substantial amount: Blue Dogs still voted in accord with President Obama 85.7 percent of the time (just 5.4 percentage points less than House Democrats overall).

Thirty-five Blue Dogs supported the president less than the Democratic caucus as a whole. Overall, of the 14 Democrats who supported the president less than 70 percent of the time, 12 were Blue Dogs.

Fifteen Blue Dogs, however, voted with the president more than the Democratic caucus overall.

South Dakota's Herseth Sandlin sided with the President only 73 percent of the time - tied for 4th lowest among all House Democrats. There is speculation Herseth will make a run for Governor of South Dakota in 2010 (GOPer Tim Rounds is term limited). Honing her conservative Democratic credentials is an important first step for Representative Herseth Sandlin, as only 4 Democrats have ever been elected governor of the Mount Rushmore State (one being her grandfather, Ralph Herseth, in 1958).

Meanwhile, Minnesota's lone Blue Dog Representative, Collin Peterson, voted with the President's stated position 81 percent of the time - tied for the 16th lowest percentage among House Democrats.

Pomeroy and Boswell actually voted with Obama with a greater frequency than the Democratic average - at 92 and 96 percent respectively.

Congressional Quarterly, in this study of 475 roll call votes in the House, also tracked "party unity" votes - votes in those instances in which legislation pits "most Democrats against most Republicans."

Overall, Democrats displayed party unity in 94.6 percent of such roll call votes. Blue Dogs, who, as mentioned above, vow to transcend partisan politics, still voted with their party 85.4 percent of the time. Blue Dogs, however, constituted 14 of the 15 Democrats who voted with their party less than 80 percent of the time during the first half of 2009.

Upper Midwestern U.S. House Delegation Votes by Presidential Support and Party Unity, January-June 2009

Representative
Seat
Pres Support
Party Unity
Blue Dog
Bruce Braley
IA-01
96
99
 
Dave Loebsack
IA-02
96
94
 
Leonard Boswell
IA-03
96
98
Yes
Tim Walz
MN-01
92
92
 
Betty McCollum
MN-04
92
99
 
Keith Ellison
MN-05
91
99
 
Collin Peterson
MN-07
81
88
Yes
James Oberstar
MN-08
92
98
 
Earl Pomeroy
ND-AL
92
96
Yes
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
SD-AL
73
89
Yes
Tammy Baldwin
WI-02
92
99
 
Ron Kind
WI-03
92
90
 
Gwen Moore
WI-04
100
99
 
David Obey
WI-07
96
99
 
Steve Kagen
WI-08
88
99
 
Source: Congressional Quarterly 2009 Vote Study data.

Overall, based on the first six months of 2009, it appears the Blue Dog Democratic coalition is just a lighter shade of blue than its party's leadership.

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Previous post: Minnesota's 'Youthful' U.S. House Delegation
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