According to Charlie Cook, at least: he calls the players in the current three-way low intensity conflict in the Democratic party “Loyal Obamists,” “Purists,” and “Skeptics” (I call them “Establishment Democrats,” “Progressive Base,” and “Ordinary, Decent Democrats”). To summarize Cook, the Loyal Obamists think that the economy will dictate the 2010 election results anyway, so they might as well protect their leader’s reputation by passing something on health care; the Purists think that the only way to ensure victory in 2010 is to go hard Left, stay there, and accept no substitutes; and the Skeptics are looking around nervously, because they’re pretty sure that they didn’t sign up for New Deal 2.0, particularly since the first two groups seem determined to do in months the sort of thing that took FDR years. What’s interesting here is the attitudes towards the economy: the first group essentially think that it’s ultimately beyond their control, the second thinks that it’s a mess because it’s not under their control, and the third thinks that while important, it’s not as important as the rather hostile populist reaction to government expansion that the first two groups are both pushing.
If you’re wondering how you maintain a coherent party strategy and Congressional majority under these circumstances, don’t worry about it: so does Charlie Cook. Addressing the willingness of the Loyal Obamists to sacrifice a few Congressman for the sake of their party leader’s reputation (the Purists are likewise more than happy to do this, too), Cook notes:
…the Loyalist notion that a dozen or so Blue Dogs might be expendable ignores the fact that a political environment that culls the Democratic herd in the House would very likely cost Democrats two to four senators, people whose votes are anything but expendable. Right now, seven Democratic Senate seats are vulnerable — eight if GOP Rep. Michael Castle runs for the open seat in Delaware. It is not hard to envision Democrats going 0 for 5 among the vulnerable Republican-held open seats (in Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Texas) and also not ousting any Republican incumbents. Another complicating factor for Democrats is that although Purple America holds some residual goodwill toward Obama, it has none for the Democratic Congress. When the institution is held in very low regard, plenty of well-liked and well-respected members of the majority party can simply get sucked down by the undertow. That happened to Republicans in 2006 and Democrats in 1994.
That it did, that it did. Not that the non-Skeptics in the Democratic party want to actually hear that; one thing that unites the two factions is their shared dismissal of the ever-more-organized opposition to their government policies. Both groups assume that a better economy will get rid of that opposition, which is in my opinion confusing trigger with cause…
Crossposted to Moe Lane.