Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Specter's switch

The big news from today is Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania has announced that he is switching parties and will now be a Democrat. Specter was first elected to the U.S. Senate as a Republican in 1980 (read the full take on it at the Washington Post).

To me the interesting element of this is the continued loss of moderates and centrists in the Republican party. There are fewer people who identify themselves are Republicans, according to recent polling, than at any point since 1983. At various points in the last decade we have heard prominent Republican moderates complain that they have been poorly treated and many have since left office. Two current Republican Senators, Olympia Snowe and Lindsey Graham echo this sentiment. In the last three years Democrats have seen a resurgence of their own moderate wing of the party, which has helped them in picking up seats in the U.S. House and Senate in 2006 and 2008, particularly in areas where the Republicans had been dominant.

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