May 31, 2005


'Purple power' pulls new laws through House: Many Democrats from moderate districts vote with the Republicans on House measures. (Gail Russell Chaddock, 6/01/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

Despite the partisan saber- rattling on Capitol Hill, a significant number of votes in the GOP-controlled House are passing with broad Democratic support.

It's a trend that surprises analysts who have noticed the numbers, and it hints at a structural advantage for the GOP as it presses its agenda heading into 2006 elections.

Call it purple power. Although Republican control of the House of Representatives is narrow - a margin of just 30 seats out of 435 total - some 20 percent of House Democrats come from districts that President Bush carried in 2004. Only 8 percent of Republicans come from districts carried by Sen. John Kerry in the presidential vote. In a landscape where most districts are clearly red (Republican) or blue (Democrat), these purple areas represent seats that could be vulnerable.

That looming reality, analysts say, is one of the factors that explains why some Democrats have crossed over to vote with the GOP on issues from tax cuts to abortion.

"For all the focus we've put ... on the growing rift in the Republican discipline, we need to also take a look at how tough it is on the Democratic side, especially for incumbents who sit in Republican districts," says Amy Walter, a congressional analyst for the Cook Political Report.

Who are the experts it surprises? It's a predictable feature of a permanent realignment.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 31, 2005 6:36 PM
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