Demographics and Elections Commentary tagged with Fakers

6/6/2024: Incumbent House Democrats: Running Scared or Just Faking Toward the Center? [RightDataUSA]

It's both, but mainly the latter.

A few months ago we published some data pertaining to Party Unity votes in the U.S. House of Representatives for 2023. A "Party Unity" vote is one in which the parties were split, with a majority of Democrats unified in opposition to a majority of similarly determined Republicans.

Nearly all important votes in the House fit that description. Democrats normally march in just about perfect goosestep with the wishes of their party leadership; most (but hardly all) Republicans do the right thing and vote the way we would want them to.

Here is one example among many, a vote from last year. It was on a bill called the "Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act", which would prevent male transvestites from participating in female sports. Every Democrat who voted was against that bill; every Republican who voted was in favor. In 2023, there were 463 Party Unity votes in the House.

The list we published highlighted the representatives who were the most inclined to abandon their party on a Party Unity vote. Not surprisingly, the names were almost entirely those of liberal/moderate Republicans, mostly from the Northeast or California, who helped the Democrats as often as they dared to. Many of these liberals would claim to have practical reasons for running to the left as often as they do, because they represent marginal districts and their re-election chances would be diminished if they appear to be too conservative.

Now we are in an election year, and even though most voters don't have any clue who their representative in Congress is until they see an election ballot -- and they certainly have no idea how that congressman votes -- incumbents are wary of their congressional voting record being used against them in the campaign, and so they often try to "moderate" their record to avoid accusations of extremism.

The vast majority of the time, it is Republicans who must be the most wary and who do the most moderating. The liberal media, and of course Democrat candidates and RINOs who are running to an incumbent's left in a primary, will gladly use whatever ammunition is available against a conservative. It is a rare case that a liberal Democrat -- even in the most marginal of districts -- must concern herself even slightly about charges of being "too liberal".

That is true in nearly all election years. But apparently not 2024.

Our analysis of congressional voting data from Voteview which runs through May 23 shows that numerous Democrats are the ones who are panicking and running hysterically towards the center, while even the squishiest House Republicans suddenly have grown at least a small amount of backbone and are standing united most of the time. This behavior, on both sides, is unprecedented in recent years.

With all of these "moderate" Democrats voting alongside the solid Republican majority so frequently, why isn't more conservative legislation becoming law?

There are at least two reasons. First, these Democrat defections are carefully metered by the party leadership. A certain group of panicky Democrats is permitted to leave the plantation on a particular vote, then a different group is given temporary freedom on a subsequent vote, and so on. No specific bill which is repugnant to liberals has any landslide vote in favor of it. Secondly, even if one does slip past them in the House, the Democrats still have their firewall in the Senate where any conservative bill is D.O.A. Despite only 49 actual Democrats plus two alleged independents, Angus King & Kyrsten Sinema, they effectively have at least 53 fairly solid votes (see below) against any legislation that could be remotely described as conservative.

So these center-fakes are basically a no-risk venture from the perspective of the liberal Democrat House leadership, and there is a significant benefit to playing the voting equivalent of Three-Card Monte: the supposedly endangered House Democrats get vital "moderate cred" for these carefully choreographed votes, which they can use to deflect accusations of ultra-liberalism that may arise on the campaign trail.

No vulnerable Democrat wants to hear her Republican opponent declare "She voted with Hakeem Jeffries 94% of the time!" during a debate or at any other time during a campaign. These tactical departures from lockstep Democrat voting are meant to defuse such allegations and to create the illusion of independence from the unpopular liberal leadership.

In 2024 five Democrats have been voting nearly as much (over 40%) with Republicans on Party Unity votes than they vote with their own party. Another 22 Democrats have been allowed to leave the plantation at least 25% of the time. Twenty-five percent may not sound like a lot, but for Democrats in recent years it is a ton. In 2023 only one Democrat (Jared Golden) rather than 27 reached that threshold of permissible disobedience.

In 2022, the last time these people had to face the voters, Democrats were as united as ever with not even one of them dissenting from party orthodoxy as much as 20% of the time. In 2024, fully 48 Democrats have exceeded that figure so far. The fact that they feel the need to fake to the center so often is an indication that panic is setting in.

The column titled "% GOP" in the table below is the percentage of the time so far in 2024 that the Democrat representative has voted with the Republicans on Party Unity votes. Freshmen are shown in italics; the first re-election bid is normally the toughest.

District% GOPCook PVI
Marie G. PerezWA-348%R+5
Mary PeltolaAK At-Large44%R+8
Henry CuellarTX-2842%D+1
Don DavisNC-141%R+1
Jared GoldenME-240%R+6
Vicente GonzalezTX-3435%D+9
Yadira CaraveoCO-832%even
Angie CraigMN-232%D+1
Josh HarderCA-929%D+5
Jared MoskowitzFL-2329%D+5
Josh GottheimerNJ-528%D+4
Hilary ScholtenMI-328%D+1
Susie LeeNV-328%D+1
Eric SorensenIL-1728%D+2
Steven HorsfordNV-427%D+3
Colin AllredTX-3227%D+14
Greg LandsmanOH-127%D+2
Wiley NickelNC-1327%R+11
Kim SchrierWA-827%D+1
Gabriel VasquezNM-226%D+1
Greg StantonAZ-426%D+2
Marcy KapturOH-926%R+3
Nikki BudzinskiIL-1326%D+3
Chris PappasNH-126%even
Pat RyanNY-1825%D+1
Frank MrvanIN-125%D+3
Chrissy HoulihanPA-625%D+5

  • Nickel is not seeking re-election; Allred is running for U.S. Senate and another couple of Democrats who are not listed above (because they crossed party lines in only 24% of their votes) are also not seeking re-election to the House and are instead running for statewide office in either 2024 (Jeff Jackson, NC-14) or 2025 (Abby Spanbarger, VA-7).

  • Peltola and Ryan were both first elected in 2022 and are therefore freshmen, but they initially won special elections and were re-elected once already, in November of 2022.

  • Every one of these Democrats who are running for re-election this year are very well funded; some of them are not particularly endangered at all (Houlihan for sure, probably also Mrvan, Budzinski and some others).

  • Cuellar was first elected in 2004 and was formerly thought of as a conservative Democrat -- which he sort of was, for one term. He has spent most of the past several years as a reliable leftist, but has lurched back toward the center in 2024. Cuellar's ethical/legal troubles may have something to do with him trying to salvage his former reputation as a non-liberal; a corrupt centrist (even a fake centrist) has a better chance in TX-28 than a corrupt liberal would. If Cuellar were a Republican, he'd have been expelled by now.

Photo credit: ABC News

There is no such phenomena in the Senate of Democrats feeling the need to fake to the center. The most (allegedly) endangered Senate Democrats are remaining on the far left, and not even glancing toward the center much less moving in that direction. Their scores on Party Unity votes:

Photo credit: womenzmag.com

On the other hand, the usual Republican suspects -- who are not even up for re-election this year so we're stuck with them -- are still cheerfully voting with the Democrats and against their own party a significant portion of the time:

Even if the Republicans regain numerical control of the Senate as a result of November's elections (they need only a Trump win or one additional victory besides West Virginia in a Senate race), who can possibly believe the GOP will have actual control with traitors like Collins and Murkowski in their ranks? If necessary, one or both of those desiccated crones may bolt the party and claim to be Independent in order to stop Republicans from having even numerical control.

Even the execrable Mitt Romney, who is retiring after 2024 and undoubtedly wishes to end his political career in a blaze of anti-conservative glory, only votes with the Democrats 24% of the time so far this year.

The Democrat analog to Romney is Joe Manchin, who recently announced his departure from the Democrat party to become an independent. Like Romney and fellow "independent" Kyrsten Sinema, Manchin is never going to face the voters of his state again and can therefore follow his conscience from here on out. Be that as it may, Manchin's conscience is still somewhere around 75% liberal, and he still has to answer to the party masters who will not appreciate his defection on any bills which are truly important to them.

The comparison of Manchin to Romney is not completely appropriate though both enjoy the notoriety they sometimes receive for being a thorn in the side of their respective parties. Manchin, unlike Romney, is not a regular visitor to liberal media opinion programs (sometimes disguised as "news") to trash his own party whenever possible. Romney's propaganda value to the left is far greater than his mere voting record in the Senate; Manchin is also a whore for publicity, but his damage to the Democrat party has always been minimal and that's not going to change despite the fact that he has altered his party label for his final few months in office.

Conclusion: Although House Democrats appear to be running scared it's likely just so much political theater. Nearly all of the most vulnerable ones still have sizable money, organizational and of course media advantages over their GOP challengers. On the flip side, the numerous vulnerable Republican House incumbents may be sticking together in terms of votes in Congress, but their chances for re-election will be determined more by money and voter turnout and factors which affect that (such as election "integrity") than those votes in the House. In many instances, that's not a happy prospect.


2024 House Scared Democrats? Fakers