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Identifying eight political categories of U.S. House

REUTERS/Jason Reed
The fact that the the Republicans are divided into six categories and the Democrats into just two says something about the relative unity/disunity of the two parties at the moment.

For the truly obsessed (like me), the New York Times has put together a map/graphic that separates the U.S. House into eight factions based on how each member conducted him/herself during the recent unpleasantness over the shutdown and the debt limit.

The categories are called “Democratic core” (the group that stuck together and voted the party line); “Independent Democrats” (who joined the Repubs on some of the defund/delay/change Obamacare votes); “Moderate Republicans” (a relative few who said all along that shutting down the government was a bad plan); a “GOP leadership” group (not all members of the leadership but those who followed the lead of the leadership); the “Defund moderates” (the biggest single group of Republicans who supported the defund-Obamacare strategy for a while but has little Tea Partyishness); the “Tea Party affiliates” (who belong to one of the Tea Party organizations but did not sign a particular group letter advocating the shutdown strategy); the “Shutdown strategy” group (they were hard-core in favor of the strategy, but they aren’t in the House Tea Party Caucus) and the “Tea Party core” group (members of the Tea Party caucus and who signed the letter promising to shutdown or defund).

In its cool infographic, the Times shows everyone on a map of districts, sorted by category. Play with it yourself if you like. I’ll just throw out a few observations:

The fact that the the Republicans are divided into six categories and the Democrats into just two says something about the relative unity/disunity of the two parties at the moment. In fact, 193 of the 200 House Democrats were in the first category that followed the Dem leadership all the way.

The majority of the moderate Republicans were clustered in just three states: Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. It will be interesting to see if any of them are challenged from the right in primaries, and also whether some of them try to find a formal way to distance themselves from the Republican caucus.

Minnesota’s House delegation was wholly contained within just three categories. Rep. Michele Bachmann was the lone Minnesotan in the “Tea Party core” group. In fact, she is the official leader of the House Tea Party Caucus, although most caucus members are southerners. The Times put the other two Minnesota Republicans, John Kline and Erik Paulsen, into the “GOP leadership” category because they followed the leadership’s lead throughout the imbroglio.

That means all of Minnesota’s House Dems were in just one category, “Democratic core,” which voted as a bloc along with the Democratic leadership. Our five Democrats span quite a wide spectrum, from some of the most liberal members, to an old Blue Dog Democrat like Collin Peterson. But the unity of the overall caucus was such that our five stuck together.

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/23/2013 - 11:21 am.

    What it means is

    that the Republicans have shifted so far to the right that the Democrats, no matter how much philosophical distance there is between, say, Keith Ellison and Tim Walz, find that they have no option other than voting together against the Republicans.
    The Republicans have opened up so much distance between the parties that there is no place for a middle ground.

    • Submitted by James Hamilton on 10/23/2013 - 12:34 pm.

      I remember

      a time not that long ago when I had a real choice between Republican and DFL candidates, at least in statewide races. More recently, I’ve been compelled to vote for DFL candidates because I saw the alternatives as far more harmful. (E.g., Emmer/Dayton.) Moderate Republicans (Carlson, Durenburger, et al) appear to have seen their day for some time to come.

      What the extremists on both sides of the Liberal/Conservative fence seem to have forgotten is that they are in fact extremists, existing on the far ends of the bell curve, who must make concessions to the middle to have any chance at all of implementing their ideas in a positive fashion. We saw it in the delay of passage of a semi-universal health care payment system and in the recent debt ceiling insanity, to name just two.

      On a not entirely unrelated point, it occurs to me that even the GOP leadership must have come to regret Citizens United.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 10/23/2013 - 03:14 pm.

    The term

    “lockstep” comes to mind. There are several factions in the republican party because it’s a party of ideas, ideas that are openly debated.

    The last time the Left had an idea was in 1848.

    • Submitted by jody rooney on 10/23/2013 - 04:51 pm.

      Not true Mr. Tester I believe the AFC was a pretty

      good idea based on how Minnesota implemented it.

      Unfortunately a new idea doesn’t mean it’s a good idea generally that means having data to evaluate it on. So far many of the Republican ideas have ignored data and relied on theory only.

      On another topic this was an interesting topic but the NYTimes needs better proof readers for their graphics.

      Representative shows up as a Core Democrat voting for the the compromise. Did I miss something – she also shows up as a T Party person that voted against the compromise.

      Hint to NY Times check you data before you post it. If you have more than 435 you double counted. And Mr Black for the data wonks on the site and there are several you should probably at least check all of the MN data points before you publish here.

  3. Submitted by jason myron on 10/23/2013 - 05:08 pm.

    Openly debated?

    the only open debate I see within the current GOP clown car is which RINO to purge next. At current rate, the GOP will soon consist of about 120 middle aged guys with anger issues, attempting to take their country back to some imaginary, Christian theocracy, led by Ted Cruz and Mike Lee.

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