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Stephen K. Medvi, "Old Democrats in New Clothing? An Ideological Analysis of a Democratic Party Faction," Party Politics, 13 (September, 2007), 587-609.

First paragraph:
Political party scholars have paid scant attention to the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) despite the fact that its creation and eventual influence within the Democratic Party is one of the most significant developments in the American party system in the second half of the twentieth century. At the presidential level, the last four Democratic tickets (that is, both the presidential and vice-presidential nominees) have comprised DLC members. At the congressional level, 'New Democrats' have recently been able to boast of having the largest caucus in the House and a significant group in the Senate. As the DLC has attempted to modernize the Democratic Party, it has faced strong opposition from more liberal members of the party. The public argument between Howard Dean (claiming to represent the 'Democratic wing of the Democratic Party') and the leaders of the DLC during the 2004 presidential primaries is but the latest in an ongoing battle for the 'soul' of the party (From and Reed, 2003).

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Range of ADA 'liberal quotients' and DW-NOMINATE scores for Traditional, New and Blue Dog Democrats, 106th Congress
Table 2. Mean ADA 'liberal quotients' and DW-NOMINATE scores and t-tests for Traditional and New Democrats, 106th Congress
Table 3. National Journal scores for Traditional and New Democrats, 106th Congress
Table 4. Logistic regression results for New Democrat coalition membership

Last Paragraph:
The changes to the House New Democrat Coalition in the 109th Congress begin to suggest some of the factors that lead to the success - and failure - of party factions. The number of members in a faction and their cohesion are two factors that seem to work at cross-purposes. That is, the larger the number of members, the more difficult ideological cohesion may be to achieve. More research is necessary to examine this trade-off and other dynamics that influence factional politics. The conditions under which factions form and within which they function must also be delineated. Finally, future research should seek to further explain why elected officials affiliate with factions. In doing so, we should be able to identify the benefits such affiliation confers on members and clarify the general purposes of factions.

Last update August 2007