Dem classes that elected Speaker Pelosi suffer huge losses from heavy GOP wave

The Democrats who handed Speaker Nancy Pelosi her majority were largely wiped out of Congress on Tuesday.

Fourteen members of the freshman class of 2006, dubbed by Pelosi (D-Calif.) as her “majority makers,” and 21 freshman elected in 2008 lost their seats with a handful of races still undecided. Republicans were able to win several more open seats that Democrats had won in those cycles.

The losses helped decimate the conservative Blue Dog Coalition, which was reduced from 54 to 26 members Tuesday night. Out of the 24 Blue Dogs who ran for reelection and lost, 15 were members of the freshman classes of 2006 and 2008. The other four Blue Dog losses were due to retirements and members who left the House to seek higher office.

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Democrats sustained their largest losses in presidential battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida and also suffered setbacks in upstate New York, New Hampshire, Virginia, Indiana and several Southern states.

Republicans knocked off Ohio freshman Democratic Reps. John Boccieri, Mary Jo Kilroy and Steve Driehaus, as well as sophomore Rep. Zack Space, leaving the state with only five House Democrats. Second-term Rep. Charlie Wilson (D), who represents a Democratic district, was also defeated.

In Pennsylvania, second-term Reps. Patrick Murphy and Chris Carney lost, as did freshman Kathy Dahlkemper.

Then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in 2008 was the first Democratic nominee to win Virginia since 1964, but freshman Democrats Tom Perriello and Glenn Nye lost their seats after only two years.

Republicans swept New Hampshire, knocked off incumbents like Rep. Baron Hill (Ind.) and Debbie Halvorson (Ill.), and beat out three key Democrats each in New York and Florida.

The losses of these members clearly illustrate how the political winds have abruptly shifted over the past four years.

In 2006, Democrats were able to harness sentiment against President George W. Bush into a sweeping 31-seat victory, defeating a number of GOP members who helped Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) take hold of the Speaker’s gavel 12 years before.

Two years later, Democrats brought 21 more members into their caucus. Many of those new members came on the coattails of Obama's presidential campaign, which made gains in states and districts that had Republican representation for years.

Losses by this bloc of Democrats were indicative of the trouble the party had with voters this cycle, and they will likely change the character of the Democratic Caucus in the next Congress.

During the 2006 cycle, then-Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel was able to recruit centrist and conservative Democrats to run in swing and traditionally Republican districts. The idea was that the candidates would have a better chance of winning if they represented their districts instead of the national party.

Some members like Boccieri and Kilroy voted for both the cap-and-trade energy bill and the healthcare bill, and others, like Nye, voted against both measures.

This story was originally posted at 2:01 a.m.

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