Are Democrat Defections About to Increase?
The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives is showing early signs of fracture.
Alabama Rep. Parker Griffith’s announced switch to the Republican Party on Tuesday may signal that others are approaching a similar conversion experience.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, Rep. Griffith’s defection could put pressure on other conservative and even moderate Democrats, especially in the Deep South, to jump ship to save their seats. They’ve been encountering backlash from the public against a Democrat-controlled progressive agenda in Washington.
Several Democratic congressmen are facing serious negative feedback from their constituents because of their party’s support of both the stimulus and health care legislation. With mid-term elections looming, running as a Republican may well be the safest alternative to re-election.
The CSM stated that Rep. Bobby Bright (D) of Alabama and Rep. Travis Childers (D) of Mississippi, are other possible party defectors.
“This has to be a calculation that it’s going to be easier for a congressman to have a career as a Republican than a Democrat, even if it means joining the minority party, [and] that really is quite astonishing,” says Merle Black, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta and author of “Divided America: The Ferocious Power Struggle in American Politics.” “The result is you might see more changes or challenges within the Deep South from some of these districts where Democrats think it’s easier to win election as a Republican.”
For tradition-bound Southerners, change may simply be happening too fast in Washington. But it’s also possible that Griffith’s frustrations with the direction of the Democratic Party are shared beyond Dixie, Black says.
“The Democrats have gone too far, gone way too liberal, changing one-sixth of the whole economy [with proposed healthcare reform],” says Black. “This is really big social change.”