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Thread: Senator Arlen Specter to switch parties, become Democrat

  1. #31
    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quazar View Post
    ^^ The way they operate - he could have another 20 years. Why don't senators have term limits like many other politicians? Who can really be effective as a senator in their 90's?
    Pennsylvanians could just vote him out of office. Novel concept, I know...

    What Kind of Democrat Will Arlen Specter Be?

    by Nate Silver @ 7:02 PM

    My first take on Arlen Specter's defection to the Democratic Party was rather skeptical. Although the move is undoubtedly quite psychologically damaging for the GOP, there is room to question how much it will actually change the way that the sausage gets made in the Congress. If, for example, Arlen Specter is a Ben Nelson kind of Democrat, voting against initiatives like EFCA while driving an extremely hard bargain on health care, it is hard to see how Democrats gain, since there is little to distinguish a Ben Nelson type of Democrat from an Arlen Specter type of Republican.

    I've now had the chance to examine the data on party-switching in more detail. When Congressmen have changed parties in the past, this has generally been accompanied by relatively material changes in their voting patterns -- thus, Democrats have ample reason to be pleased. Nevertheless, odds are that Specter will line up squarely in the conservative half of the Democratic caucus and will probably leave room to his left for a primary challenge.

    Since 1980, according to Wikipedia, 20 Congressmen (16 Representatives and 4 Senators) have switched from one party to the other. The vast majority of these switches -- 17 of 20 -- were from the Democratic Party to the Republicans, mostly among conservative Southern Democrats in the 1980s and early 90s. Only Specter, Long Island Representative Michael Forbes and Jim Jeffords have gone the other way. I classify these Congressmen, by the way, by which party they caucused with regardless of how cute they tried to get about the label attached to their name. Thus Jeffords is treated as going from Republican to Democrat even though he still called himself an independent, whereas Joe Lieberman is not classified as a party-switcher because he never ceased caucusing with the Democrats.

    I then looked up DW-NOMINATE data for each of these party switchers. DW-NOMINATE is a liberal-conservative classification which has conveniently assigned scores to each Congressman in each Congress from the 18th Century onward. DW-NOMINATE scores generally run from -1 for an extremely liberal Congressman to +1 for an extremely conservative one (although ratings slightly greater than 1 or less than -1 are possible under exceptional circumstances). The ratings for a select group of Senators in the 110th Congress follow below.



    A "typical" Congressman from each party will usually have a scores of about ±.4 or ±.5. Members with scores of ±.55 and higher can usually be thought of as being quite liberal or quite conservative, whereas moderates will usually receive scores of about ±.35 and lower. Democrats, by the way, can receive positive scores and Republicans negative ones, although this didn't occur for any Senators in the 110th. Specter's score was +.091, making him the third least-conservative Republican after Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

    The next step was to look up the DW-NOMINATE scores for the party-switchers, comparing their figures in the Congresses that came both immediately before and immediately after the party change:



    All of the party-switchers moved toward the direction of their (new) party caucus after making the change, although with somewhat varying degrees of magnitude. California's Matthew Martinez, for instance, who had not been an exceptionally moderate Democrat, turned all the way into a rather run-of-the-mill Republican. On the other end of the spectrum, you'd have had to look pretty hard to find issues on which Congressman Gene Atkinson of Pennsylvania was voting differently after becoming a Republican in 1981.

    The average magnitude of the change was ±.394 points, with about two-thirds of the cases somewhere between ±.3 and ±.5.

    What does this mean for Specter? If we take his rating of +.091 from the 110th Congress and subtract .394 points from it, we come up with a -.303. That would make him similar to Tim Johnson (-.282), Blanche Lincoln (-.297), Kent Conrad (.315) or Joe Liberman (-.333). Bob Casey Jr,, by contrast, Specter's colleague from Pennsylvania, rates as a -.401, whereas the average Democratic senator in the 110th Congress was a -.441.

    There are both aggravating and mitigating circumstances that may affect Specter's positioning. On the one hand, he seems to have made the switch more or less unabashedly for electoral reasons, even alluding to the polling in his statement today. This suggests that he'll be no more and no less Democratic than he can get away with. On the other hand, the parties are now more polarized than they once were, and so crossing the aisle may mean more than it once did. Prior to this party-switch, Specter's DW-NOMINATE scores had gradually been moving away from the center as it had become harder to stake out a position as a moderate Republican.

    FiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right: What Kind of Democrat Will Arlen Specter Be?

  2. #32
    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    Wow. I am shocked. I always get him mixed up with the deeply closeted Orwin Hatch because Spector used to be a Dem until the persecution of gays made him switch parties (he didn't like it...read article here: Gay Sex Stings Played Role in Arlen Specter's First Switch, to the GOP - Towleroad, More than gay news. More gay men). Wow. Gobsmacked.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmlok View Post
    At any rate, the Rethug party will shrink and become ever more white, shrill, insane, and fundamentalist
    And less relevant by the day.

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    Elite Member sluce's Avatar
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    I have serious doubts that Arler will live to the next election anyway. His health is not good. By switching parties before he passes he is setting it up so that our Democrat Gov can replace him with a Dem.
    You don't engage with crazies. Because they're, you know, fucking crazy. - WitchCurlGirl

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingcap72 View Post
    I agree with you that the Dems have been spineless more times than I care to count, but I wouldn't call them ALL spineless or pussies. Reid, definitely. Pelosi has her moments. Obama has had his moments of caving, too

    But I think a lot of people have this idea that once the Dems regained power that they should just do what the Republicans did and just say 'fuck the other party' and do what they want. But my problem with that is those of us who are Independent, Democratic, moderate or liberal blasted the Republicans for having that attitude. It would be wrong for the Dems to do the same thing we bitched about the Republicans doing for the last 8 years.

    Now, that's not to say that I want Obama and the Dems to cave to the GOP at every turn. But I have no problem with them at least TRYING to work with the Republicans, at first, and when the GOP bitches, then the Dems should just do what they want/need to do.
    Why shouldn't the Dems say "fuck the other party" when it comes to standing on principles that are not only what their base wants them to do, but is also the right thing to do? If someone were trying to obstruct me from doing what I know is right I would do everything in my power to get around them, within legal limits. The Repukes used every procedural tool available to them in order to obstruct Dem initiatives or push their own. The Dems always capitulate before the fight even begins.

  6. #36
    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sasha View Post
    Why shouldn't the Dems say "fuck the other party" when it comes to standing on principles that are not only what their base wants them to do, but is also the right thing to do? If someone were trying to obstruct me from doing what I know is right I would do everything in my power to get around them, within legal limits. The Repukes used every procedural tool available to them in order to obstruct Dem initiatives or push their own. The Dems always capitulate before the fight even begins.
    Because we have a two-party system that's suppose to provide balance. While it's not perfect, when one party says fuck the other party right from the start then they're moving toward dictators who don't want opposing opinions. And the Republicans did a LOT of things that they felt were standing on their principles and were right within all sense of the law.

    Now, I think the Dems should say fuck the GOP when they're just standing in the way and refusing to budge. But they need to, at least, make it look like they're trying to work with the GOP from time to time. And, yeah, I agree that the Dems as a party do capitulate, more often than not, before the fight begins. But I think that's because the Dems have spent too much time being on the defensive, rather than being proactive. Which is one thing I give Republicans credit for. They have no problem being proactive and going on the offense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingcap72 View Post
    Because we have a two-party system that's suppose to provide balance. While it's not perfect, when one party says fuck the other party right from the start then they're moving toward dictators who don't want opposing opinions. And the Republicans did a LOT of things that they felt were standing on their principles and were right within all sense of the law.

    Now, I think the Dems should say fuck the GOP when they're just standing in the way and refusing to budge. But they need to, at least, make it look like they're trying to work with the GOP from time to time. And, yeah, I agree that the Dems as a party do capitulate, more often than not, before the fight begins. But I think that's because the Dems have spent too much time being on the defensive, rather than being proactive. Which is one thing I give Republicans credit for. They have no problem being proactive and going on the offense.
    Not when you are talking about legislation that the majority of Americans want to see enacted. What the Republicans are mostly doing is the bidding of corporations, and not people. When the Republicans tell the other party to "fuck off" they are actually telling the majority of Americans to "fuck off". The kind of policies the Dems SAY they stand for are popular with the people so when they tell Repukes to "fuck off" they are STANDING UP for the people and against vested interests.

    Of course, this is all theoretical since the Dems don't actually believe in what they say they believe in, and wouldn't fight for any of it if they did.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sasha View Post
    Not when you are talking about legislation that the majority of Americans want to see enacted. What the Republicans are mostly doing is the bidding of corporations, and not people. When the Republicans tell the other party to "fuck off" they are actually telling the majority of Americans to "fuck off". The kind of policies the Dems SAY they stand for are popular with the people so when they tell Repukes to "fuck off" they are STANDING UP for the people and against vested interests.

    Of course, this is all theoretical since the Dems don't actually believe in what they say they believe in, and wouldn't fight for any of it if they did.
    Regardless of how many Americans want certain legislation enacted, it doesn't change the fact that we still have a two-party system which is suppose to provide balance. And considering the millions of votes that McCain/Palin managed to garner in November there's still a large part of the American people who are against many of the plans that the Democrats have. Even Obama had to acknowledge that on Election Night.

    As for the Dems, like the Republicans, they have their special interest groups that they cave to. And the corporations have some of the Dems in their backpockets. And many of the Dems and Republicans will stand for the issues that they think appeal to their base, whether they believe in them or not. But I think there are Dems and Republicans who truly believe in some of the policies that they fight for. Except with the Dems, they usually don't have the backbone to stand their ground and fight for what they believe in.

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    the Dems, they usually don't have the backbone to stand their ground and fight for what they believe in.

    Then we agree.

    I don't have a problem with the Repukes fighting for what they believe in. They are supposed to do that. The problem comes in when the other party refuses to fight them when they ostensibly disagree, or when they refuse to fight for the policies they supposedly believe in. That is what throws off the so-called balance of a two party system. Frankly, I think the country would benefit from having more viable third parties.

  10. #40
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    Statement by Senator Arlen Specter

    April 28, 2009

    I have been a Republican since 1966. I have been working extremely hard for the Party, for its candidates and for the ideals of a Republican Party whose tent is big enough to welcome diverse points of view. While I have been comfortable being a Republican, my Party has not defined who I am. I have taken each issue one at a time and have exercised independent judgment to do what I thought was best for Pennsylvania and the nation.

    Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.

    When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing.

    Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.

    I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary.

    I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election.

    I deeply regret that I will be disappointing many friends and supporters. I can understand their disappointment. I am also disappointed that so many in the Party I have worked for for more than four decades do not want me to be their candidate. It is very painful on both sides. I thank especially Senators McConnell and Cornyn for their forbearance.

    I am not making this decision because there are no important and interesting opportunities outside the Senate. I take on this complicated run for re-election because I am deeply concerned about the future of our country and I believe I have a significant contribution to make on many of the key issues of the day, especially medical research. NIH funding has saved or lengthened thousands of lives, including mine, and much more needs to be done. And my seniority is very important to continue to bring important projects vital to Pennsylvania’s economy.

    I am taking this action now because there are fewer than thirteen months to the 2010 Pennsylvania Primary and there is much to be done in preparation for that election. Upon request, I will return campaign contributions contributed during this cycle.

    While each member of the Senate caucuses with his Party, what each of us hopes to accomplish is distinct from his party affiliation. The American people do not care which Party solves the problems confronting our nation. And no Senator, no matter how loyal he is to his Party, should or would put party loyalty above his duty to the state and nation.

    My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. Unlike Senator Jeffords’ switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change.

    Whatever my party affiliation, I will continue to be guided by President Kennedy’s statement that sometimes Party asks too much. When it does, I will continue my independent voting and follow my conscience on what I think is best for Pennsylvania and America.

    Arlen Specter for Senate 2010

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sasha View Post
    the Dems, they usually don't have the backbone to stand their ground and fight for what they believe in.

    Then we agree.

    I don't have a problem with the Repukes fighting for what they believe in. They are supposed to do that. The problem comes in when the other party refuses to fight them when they ostensibly disagree, or when they refuse to fight for the policies they supposedly believe in. That is what throws off the so-called balance of a two party system. Frankly, I think the country would benefit from having more viable third parties.
    Agree 100%

  12. #42
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    We have third parties...Independents, and Libertarians. There just aren't enough of them.
    ""Somebody needs to talk to Alex Castellanos: he may not be doing sex right if he thinks an Obama speech is 'like sex'."~ Rush Limbaugh

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    Quote Originally Posted by chattykathy View Post
    We have third parties...Independents, and Libertarians. There just aren't enough of them.
    But they aren't third parties that carry the political clout that the Dems and Republicans carry. Although with the way the GOP is imploding and driving away moderate Republicans I think the Independent Party, or a totally new party, will gain in strength.

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    Good riddance!
    mama mia*
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails. - William Arthur Ward

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    ^ Yeah, cuz you know the Republicans really DO need to become even more right wing crazy, bigoted and ignorant.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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