The National Journal reports the demise of the Blue Dogs as Rep Mathesion (D-UT) is retiring:
Matheson’s retirement continues the decline of two overlapping Democratic groups: Blue Dogs and Democrats who opposed Nancy Pelosi’s bid to continue leading their caucus after the electoral shellacking of 2010. There are just 15 Blue Dog Democrats in the House now, down from 26 in the previous Congress and 54 in the Congress before that. Meanwhile, 19 Democrats publicly opposed Pelosi for speaker on the House floor in January 2011, and Matheson will become the 11th to leave the House at the end of his term.
During the 111th Congress, the Democrats had a maximum of 40 spare votes to lose before legislation would fail if we assume that there would be no Republican votes for anything more adventurous than renaming post offices. Most days due to vacancies, illness, and random things happening, the margin before failure was thirty-five to thirty-eight votes.
The Blue Dog caucus was always larger than the margin of failure. Blue Dogs tend to represent districts that were significantly more Republican leaning then the rest of the nation. Their political survival depended on being seen as hippy punching assholes. There were exceptions like Lipinski who voted like a R-7 rep instead of a representative from a solid Dem district.
Anything that could come out of Congress had to get a third of the Blue Dogs to defect. On any issue, there were a few easy gets, but after the first half dozen, significant policy concessions from liberals would be needed to the next dozen or more yes votes. And that is why I think there were marginal improvements that were possible but not wholesale improvements from what we’ve actually got in PPACA. The Blue Dogs had an effective veto on anything that would make liberals too happy.