Nearly one-third of House Democrats are from California and New York. Hmmm…

Posted by: Phineas on November 27, 2012 at 1:59 pm

**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)

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12 Responses to “Nearly one-third of House Democrats are from California and New York. Hmmm…”


  1. Great White Rat says:

    “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.

    On the presidential level, Romney already answered your question: the Obama campaign promised free stuff to enough people to carve out a slim majority. I’d also add that once some polls showed Romney ahead, the GOP campaign relaxed and tried to coast – hence the blunders like not hammering away at the Libya debacle and subsequent lies during the last week, giving Obama a triumpant and unencumbered stage due to Hurricane Sandy at that critical time.

    On the Senate level, the fact is that some candidates, like Mourdock and Akin, shot themselves in the foot, and others just ran miserable campaigns.

  2. Aarradin says:

    The Senate and Presidential election results, varying from the state level drift toward Republicans in most of the country, is easily explained: the power of the national media and its Democrat bias.

    The more prominent the election, the more the national media pays attention to it, the better the D’s do. It really is that simple.

    Congressional races tend to fly under the radar of the national media, with occassional exeptions. Same for state executives (which is odd, you’d think Governor races would get more media attention, but they don’t). State legislative races, even state senate races, get almost zero media even locally. Therefore, they tend to most closely reflect the actual policy preferences of the voters.

    The national media is worth 15-25 points to the D’s in every presidential election. Its value varies more widely in Senate races depending on whether they decide to cover the race (ie. depending entirely on whether the R in the race does or says something that allows the national media to destroy his candidacy. Take, say, Akin or Mourdock this cycle. Or, Christine O’Donnell (sp?) two years ago).

  3. Aarradin says:

    At the state level, you are correct in that the most notable result was the retention of the R’s 2010 gains, which were enormous. If the D’s had done the same, the media would be talking nonstop about their ‘historic’ and ‘unprecedented’ gains. Something like 700 seats changed hands from D to R. This year, the D’s won back about 50 of them (some of the close races are still being fought over).

    As to the main point of this article though, the D’s being the party that is regional, that appears to be correct. Arkansas has, finally, gone to R control in both its house (for the first time since reconstruction) and senate. The governor is still D, but in his 2nd term and term limited (and he governs far more like an R than a national level D). So, AR is now part of the solid Republican south both at the state level and for national elections.

    WV is heading in the same direction, but isn’t quite there yet. They are solid R in presidential elections, but mostly D otherwise. The state House is nearing parity though. WV Dems are old school private sector labor union D’s though. They have ZERO in common with national D’s. Less than zero, really, since their power base is coal miners.

    The D’s have become the party of upper class white liberals (concentrated in the northeast and CA, with outposts near Chicago, Seattle and most college campuses), government employees, and poor urban minorities.

    R’s do best among the working class. <—Read that again.

    The Democrats no longer represent the working man. Haven't for decades. Obama got roughly 40% of the white vote, but if you exclude government workers (both federal and state bureaucrats, including teachers) that number plummets to the low 30's – probably his worst demographic (certainly his worst important demographic).

    The D's own Illinois ENTIRELY on account of Chicago. They win PA for presidential elections almost entirely as a result of Philadelphia. Similarly, NY due to NY city. CA due to LA, San Fran and Sacramento. The suburbs (excluding college towns) and rural areas are solid R.

    WI is treding R, and this will accelerate massively if Walkers reforms (specifically not collecting union dues out of state employee paychecks) hold. When Mitch Daniels did this in Indiana, union dues plummeted over 90% in a single year, which meant that public sector union political contributions dropped even more (after all, union bosses will cut their own salaries last and need to actually do some union 'work' to justify their existence). Note that the 2012 election gave the state senate back to the R's, so they again have total control of state government – and by a wider margin.

    Even MI is drifting R, helped along by the depopulation of Detroit – the Progressive's Shining City on a Hill.

    Don't ask me to explain MN. I'm baffled. Their grossly incompetent D gov shut down their government in a stupid hissy fit, lost, and caved in a most embarrassing fashion, and voters in 2012 rewarded him with big gains in both the state house and senate. Their US Senators are Klobuchar, who they re-elected, and Al freaking Franken. All I can say is, you folks ought to be embarrassed.

    Maine, btw, went the wrong way: The D's flipped both the House and Senate back to their control. But, is that the culmination of a long term trend like AR going R? I doubt it. Same with NH's slight shift back to D. CO's I'm more worried about, due to the influx of illegals.

  4. One encouraging statistic is that 30 of the 50 (or is it 57?) governors are Republican, a 60% advantage. And governors have a better success rate at being elected President than do Representatives. Three of the last five Presidents have been governors; Reagan (CA), Clinton (AR), and George W. Bush (TX).

    Is there an uglier Congressman than Waxman? At night he pulls the sheets up over his head and hopes sleep will slip up on him.

  5. Phineas says:

    Is there an uglier Congressman than Waxman? At night he pulls the sheets up over his head and hopes sleep will slip up on him.

    He always reminds me of a rodent sniffing for cheese.

  6. Phineas says:

    The Democrats no longer represent the working man.

    Bingo. Since the progressive era, they’ve gone from being a mildly (and sometimes not so mildly) populist party to being the party that juggles groups.

  7. Aarradin says:

    @Drew We also need to focus on making sure all 60 Senators from those 30 states with R governors are R as well. At a minimum, the 54 Senators from the 27 states with R Gov and R controlled state house/senate really should be R.

    State level D’s in most states have to run as conservatives to stay in office. Federal D’s are all-in for totalitarian socialism. We need to make a point of emphasizing the difference at election time when a Senate seat in a state like WV is up. The electorate is already splitting their vote: R for president, D for state house/senate. We need to get them to vote R for US Senate too.

    Both WV D Senators voted for Obamacare. Neither has done jack to stop, slow, or even object to Obama’s war on coal. The claims they make in their TV commercials to the contrary are bogus.

    We simply need to get them to vote for the policy preferences that they ALREADY HOLD. That’s the key right there. There are a LOT of D Senators in office due to votes from people that are voting contrary to their OWN BELIEFS. We don’t need to change their minds on any policy questions. We only need to make clear to them that their D Senators vote for policies, regularly, that are already anathema to them.

    This is the proverbial “low hanging fruit” that we’ve failed to pick.

    For instance, I live in VA, and the recent Senate race was won by the Demcorat, Tim Kaine (a likely D nominee for president in 4 years, btw). He ran as a Republican. Seriously. He ran millions in ads in which he posed as a fiscal conservative and painted his opponent as a big spender. He NEVER mentioned his party id in his ads. He NEVER mentioned any of the “progressive” policy votes he made in the Senate. He NEVER mentioned his former post as head of the DNC.

    How did he get away with this? Simple. Neither his opponent, nor the PACs that advertised for his opponent, called him out on it. They made zero attempt to connect him to Obamacare, or Dodd/Frank, or Obama personally, or the DNC, or any of the statist policies he voted for in DC. He voted like a communist in the Senate (he’s a former Senator) but campaigns like a moderate Republican.

    Easily 2/3 of the voters in VA are opposed to what Tim Kaine will actually do once he’s back in the Senate.

  8. Carlos says:

    ” Ya got me, bub. I’m still trying to figure that one out.”

    It’s easy, Phineas – NY and CA are the media capitols of the country, and there are enough brainless bots who take everything they hear on the telly as gospel truth, including both the PMSNBC viewers. No brains, no thoughts, no critical analysis: easily identified as an Obama supporter…

    The only echo rumbling through such heads is how to ensure the welfare crack keeps coming.

  9. Kate says:

    I have noticed this trend over the years….they move for NY to Florida….they move from CA to neighboring states, they follow the population trends of the nation, so it no wonder we see this. As people moved south to evade TAXES in NY or winter in Florida…the politicians followed!

  10. Aarradin says:


    Massachusetts liberals, particularly state government bureaucrats, like to retire to NH to avoid MA taxes. NH has no sales tax (it also has no income tax). Their politics don’t change though. They see no disconnect between fleeing the high taxes of MA and then voting for the same policies in NH.

    Residents of NH refer to such people as “Massholes”.

  11. Carlos says:

    @Aarradin: Good name. Out here (Oregon) we call the interlopers who bring their unicorn fantasies “Californicators.”

    I still can’t figure out why, if they (whether “they” are Massholes or Califirnicators or whatever) are fleeing the policies they themselves voted in, they vote for the same policies at their new unicorn corral?

    The very definition of useless and stupid. If it didn’t work where they came from (and destroyed any semblance of civil society in the bargain), what makes them think it’ll be any different now?

  12. Sefton says:

    The very definition of useless and stupid. If it didn’t work where they came from (and destroyed any semblance of civil society in the bargain), what makes them think it’ll be any different now?

    Carlos – To use an analogy I’ve used before… they’re like swarming locusts who devour one fertile area and then move on to the next. Locusts don’t learn by looking behind them at the destruction they’ve caused; they just follow instinct for destroying the next patch of growth.
    Odd term to use, this “progressivism” term. Everything they touch regresses or rots. But then we’re all familiar with the labeling the left likes to use to hide actual intent. It’s been that way throughout history, a history that shows the socialist/communist ideology to fail everywhere it’s been tried. Stupid is as stupid does as the saying goes.