**Posted by Phineas
I stumbled across an interesting factoid this morning that might explain, in part, the statist drift of the Democratic Party from liberal to, essentially, social democratic (and beyond?) over the last 40-50 years: an increasing percentage of the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives comes from just California and New York — nearly 30%.
But a University of Minnesota study found that when the 113th Congress convenes, a whopping 29.4% (59 of 201) of Democrats in the House will hail from California (38 members) and New York (21 members).
The study analyzed 83 general election cycles dating back to 1850 and discovered the “Democratic Party now comprises a larger percentage of Californians and New Yorkers in the U.S. House than at any point since California joined the Union.”
According to the study, “even though California and New York are two of three most populous states in the country,” the number of representatives from both states has “remained flat over the last 50 years.”
However, during this 50-year period, the percentage of Democrats elected to the House from California and New York “has increased by more than two-thirds: from 17.4 percent in 1962 to 29.4 percent in January 2013.”
In fact, “California and New York hold 29.4 percent of seats in the Democratic caucus but just 18.4 percent of U.S. House seats overall.” This is an incredible +11.0-point differential.
The thrust of Tony Lee’s article is that it’s the Democrats who are becoming a regional party, and I think he’s right, at least in the near term. For example, if the number of representatives from both states has stayed stable for roughly 50 years, but their percentage as a part of the Democratic caucus has grown, that would indicate a decline in the number of Democrats from other states and regions, certainly since the Republicans took control of the House in 1994 and culminating in the Blue Bloodbath of 2010. And, while conservatives were tremendously disappointed by the presidential and senate elections this year, the fact is we did pretty darned good at the state level, retaining most of the 2010 gains. It seems reasonable to assume that, outside of the New England/Mid-Atlantic and Pacific regions (and Chicago), the nation prefers a Center-Right approach. (1) That’s something to bear in mind as we work toward the 2014 and 2016 elections and Obamacare becomes a pain in everyone’s tuchus.
But, getting back to the Democratic politics, this increasing leftward bent is explained in part by a process of distillation and concentration: just as salted liquid becomes saltier due to evaporation, the Democratic party concentrated toward the left as more centrist members in other states lost elections, leaving the members from deep Blue districts who then gained power within the caucus through seniority. I can’t speak for New York politics (though I suspect a similar pattern there), but California’s congressional Democratic caucus contains many strong leftists. For just some examples, there’s Nancy Pelosi, whose self-described hero was a member of the CPUSA central committee; Barbara Lee, an ardent defender of Castro’s Cuba; Maxine Waters, who wants to socialize the oil industry; Xavier Becerra, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America; and Henry Waxman, co-author of the statist monstrosity Waxman-Markey bill.
Like a mild wine that’s distilled to a powerful brandy, electoral politics in the United States has refined the Democrats to their leftist, statist core, a core dominated by just two populous, powerful, and very left-leaning states.
And we shouldn’t expect that to change any time soon.
(1) “Then how do you explain the senate and presidential elections,” you may ask. Ya got me, bub. I’m still trying to figure that one out.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)