The Nov. 6 House elections provided fresh blood for the New Democrat Coalition and Congressional Hispanic Caucus, while the Blue Dog Coalition continued to dwindle and the Congressional Black Caucus held steady at 43 members.
Meanwhile, the ranks of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the largest ideological bloc among House Democrats, rose to as many as 79 members.
But the largest relative gains were among the New Democrats and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
The New Democrats, who boasted 43 members in the 112th Congress, could have a net gain of as many as 12 members. The group picked up 12 to 15 newly elected members it endorsed (some races are not yet called), and as many as five other lawmakers are considering membership.
The gains could leave the New Democrats with more than the 54 members that made up the Blue Dog Coalition in the 111th Congress, when its membership was at its peak.
The Blue Dogs, who had 18 members in the 112th, will return with 15 members — 14 returning and one new.
Although the numbers are way down from the group’s heyday, the election was not as bad for the Blue Dogs as it might have been, including victories by Reps. John Barrow, D-Ga., and Jim Matheson, D-Utah. Rep.-elect Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., a Blue Dog who lost in 2010, won last week and is returning to Congress.
The CHC gained nine members, which increases its size from 20 members in the 112th Congress to 25 members now. Four members did not return, including former chairman Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif.
The Congressional Black Caucus gained five new members that will replace five members who were members of the caucus in the 112th but aren’t returning, keeping the group at 43 members. The group remains the largest race-based caucus.
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus made gains, but calculating the group’s membership is more complicated than for the CBC and CHC because non-Asians make up a good number of its members. In terms of Asian-American and Pacific Islander members, the caucus had 12 members in the 112th Congress. Ten of them are returning, and four or five new members will join the caucus, depending on outstanding election results.
The group’s membership includes two delegates who are members of Congress but do not vote on the floor.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and other Democratic leaders have touted the CHC and CAPAC pickups as part of the overall diversity of the just-elected Democratic caucus.
“When we go back to Washington, we will have a Democratic Caucus that’s a majority of women and minorities — imagine that. First time in the history of the world and our country,” Pelosi told reporters in San Francisco on Sunday, according to a transcript provided by Pelosi’s office.
Touting the fact that the Democratic Caucus is majority-minority for the first time ever, and a reflection of the future of the country, has been a consistent talking point in the days since the elections.
“Last night, the American people spoke, and they chose leaders that better reflect the diversity of our nation,” said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., chairwoman of CAPAC, according to the Rafu Shimpo Japanese-English newspaper in Los Angeles.
The Progressive Caucus will remain the largest ideological bloc among House Democrats, and co-chairman Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., touted the group’s gains in a post for the liberal blog Daily Kos.
“You helped send a great team to make the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) bigger, stronger and even more diverse for the next two years,” Grijalva wrote.
One complicating factor in assessing the new members for the CPC and other ideological caucuses is that some are being claimed as new recruits by multiple groups.
For example, both the New Democrats and the CPC are counting Patrick Murphy from Florida as one of their own. Murphy declared victory against Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., but West has not yet conceded. The race is one of only a handful that has not yet been called.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say this race was a little personal for [Progressive Action PAC], considering Rep. West called the Progressive Caucus a bunch of communists,” Grijalva wrote in his Daily Kos post.
While the Progressive Caucus is the largest ideological bloc among House Democrats, it doesn’t come close to having the sway the conservative Republican Study Committee has in the Republican Conference.
The RSC had more than 160 members in the 112th Congress, about 70 percent of the GOP conference.
Only House members, not senators, were included in counts for each caucus.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.