Report: Congressional Seats Won on “Bold, Progressive” Agenda

Nov. 6, 2008
Twenty-six of the 29 Democratic candidates who won seats previously held by Republicans in the House and Senate championed bold, progressive economic positions, according to a report released by the Campaign for America’s Future (CAF). The report shows that these progressive candidates’ victories represent a swing to the left of 34 votes in the House and 10 in the Senate, reflecting a clear mandate for progressive change.

Democrats won five Senate seats and 25 House seats that previously were held by Republicans. According to the report, CAF focused “on those seats because they demonstrate the strong ideological shift from the outgoing 110th to the incoming 111th Congress.”

Of those 30 winners, CAF determined that:

  • 28 promoted health coverage for all Americans;
  • 19 favored fair-trade instead of free-trade (NAFTA-style) agreements;
  • 29 promoted a green economy, to end our reliance on foreign oil and to create and expand new and clean energy production;
  • 29 favored the Employee Free Choice Act, which lowers procedural barriers for workers to unionize;
  • 24 promoted a fair tax system for the middle-class similar to the Obama plan; and
  • 28 rejected the privatization of Social Security.

To distinguish progressive candidates from conservatives and moderates, the CAF report compared the positions of the candidates on six major economic issues, including health care, workers’ rights, tax policy, trade, Social Security and clean energy. Out of the 29 Democrats who won House and Senate seats previously held by Republicans, 21 House candidates and 5 Senate candidates supported the progressive position on at least five out of the six issues. Only three of the winning candidates chose to run on a more conservative platform.

A Sea-Change Election

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., newly elected Rep.-elect Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, and AFL-CIO political director Karen Ackerman joined CAF’s Co-Director Robert Borosage on a conference call with Nov. 5 to discuss the report’s findings.

“This was not simply a change election. It was a sea-change election that marks the end of the conservative era that has dominated our politics over the past three decades,” said Borosage. “Democrats won because they campaigned as progressives, not as moderates or conservatives. On core economic issues, voters gave these legislators a mandate for reform.”

Brown said the candidates who won last night were unified around a common set of bold progressive themes.

“This election ushered in the next progressive era for our nation,” Brown said. “From health care to trade to education, progressive values will now be the priority in Washington. It’s time to get to work.”

Edwards, who won re-election, campaigned with several candidates in close races across the country. Rep. Edwards said the candidates she campaigned with embraced bold progressive positions on every major economic issue.

"Candidates across the country ran and won on a bold progressive agenda," she said. "Now our challenge is to govern on the progressive agenda – including smart investment in jobs, in infrastructure, in health care and energy and bringing a safe and responsible end to the war in Iraq. It's an exciting time and I am confident that we will be able to set priorities to deliver the bold solutions Americans expect."

Visit Campaign for America’s Web site for more information or download the report, "Congressional Elections Deliver a Progressive Mandate," for more information.

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