Where Are All the Party Switchers?

What's really striking to me, as Arlen Specter switches parties today, is how rare the occurrence has become. With Democrats gaining power in Congress ...
by | April 28, 2009

What's really striking to me, as Arlen Specter switches parties today, is how rare the occurrence has become. With Democrats gaining power in Congress and in lots of state legislatures since 2006, I'm surprised that ideologically androgynous politicians haven't flocked to the Democratic Party. If you're an elected official who doesn't quite fit in with either party, why not join the one that's in power so that you can have a stronger voice?

One explanation is that fewer of these sorts of politicians are holding office. Most politicians these days owe their success to a particular political party and, on the issues, fit in quite well with that party. In 1994, the South had lots of conservative Democrats in office who, when Republicans won big that year, were ideal party-switching candidates. In contrast, most of the moderate-to-liberal Republicans have been swept out of office before they ever had a chance to switch parties.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com  | 

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