Journalism in the Public Interest

New Democrat Coalition Loses Big in Midterms

The business-friendly New Democrat Coalition will likely lose a third of its members when the last votes are finally tallied.


People cheer as election results show the Republican party gaining the House majority during the Tea Party election results party at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill on Nov. 2, 2010. (Rod Lamkey /Getty Images)

Last week, ProPublica told the story of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of 69 House lawmakers whose close relationship with several hundred Washington lobbyists has made them a powerful congressional force that has helped Wall Street and big Pharma win major legislative battles. We also suggested that the group could lose more than a third of its members to GOP candidates in the midterm elections.

As of now, 20 New Democrats have gone down in defeat while six others are locked in races that are too close to call. Many of those who lost come from conservative districts and are members of the Blue Dog Coalition, another conservative House coalition, but other New Democrats also fared poorly. Vice chair Melissa Bean, a critical player in the group's efforts to weaken the overhaul of the financial services industry, is trailing a Tea Party-backed opponent in her suburban Chicago district. Mike McMahon, who authored the group's derivatives proposal that was criticized for having big loopholes, was defeated. (A list of the New Democrats who have lost can be found below.)

Like the New Democrats, many Americans who went to the polls were focused on economic matters. However, exit polls reveal voters were more likely to blame the economic crisis on Wall Street than on either President Obama or former President Bush. Of those who blamed the banks, a solid majority voted against the Democrats, suggesting that despite having passed financial reform legislation, the party couldn't shake off the notion it was too close to the banks.

In January the new House will be overwhelmingly Republican, so much so that the new majority may not always need the votes of conservative Democrats. When it does, however, Republicans will likely court the New Democrats, since the other major group of conservative Democrats -- the Blue Dog Coalition -- lost half its members last night, leaving only 26. Even if the New Democrats lose all six of their undecided races, the group will still have 36 members -- more than enough to act as a critical swing bloc on close votes.

New Democrats Who Lost:

  • John Adler (NJ)
  • Michael Arcuri (NY)
  • John Boccieri (OH)
  • Bobby Bright (AL)
  • Chris Carney (PA)
  • Steve Driehaus (OH)
  • Bob Etheridge (NC)
  • Bill Foster (IL)
  • Debbie Halvorson (IL)
  • Ron Klein (FL)
  • Suzanne Kosmas (FL)
  • Frank Kratovil (MD)
  • Betsy Markey (CO)
  • Mike McMahon (NY)
  • Harry Mitchell (AZ)
  • Patrick Murphy (PA)
  • Scott Murphy (NY)
  • Glenn Nye (VA)
  • Mark Schauer (MI)
  • Charlie Wilson (OH)

New Democrats In Unresolved Races:

  • Melissa Bean (IL)
  • Gerry Connolly (VA)
  • Gabrielle Giffords (AZ)
  • Rick Larsen (WA)
  • Dan Maffei (NY)
  • Adam Smith (WA)

Alas, we lost some amazing progressives as well.  Any takers on 2012?

I don’t think that those New Democrats lost because of their associations. Of course I did not follow their campaigns or those of their opponents to see whose K street associations were being debated. It seems more likely to me that those New Democrats lost because of the general dislike or distrust of Democrats in general. The people who vote against Democrats are more likely apologists for those big companies than critics of them.

Too bad there weren’t more DemocRATS picked off in the mid term election.  Oh well, there’s 2012!  At least Pelosi is gone—no more having to listen to that crazy nut.

We lost far fewer progressives than these backward looking Blue Dogs. And the ones who voted against extending unemployment benefits have been decimated as well.

All politics is ultimately local. Where people are bright and informed the Democrats always win; where people are down and out, easily distracted, and subjected to the most horrendous distorted news and ads, they are less likely to win. Since the news is now basically the successor to the National Enquirer, in search of lurid headlines (see the exposure given to Bachmann’s ridiculous claim that Obama’s trip to India will cost more per day than the Afghanistan war) there will be no real elections in this country.

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