Spare Some Change? Top Democrats March On Despite Midterm Drubbing

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By now, you’ve probably noticed how little has changed since the midterm elections that took place a little more than two weeks ago (but it seems like two MONTHS ago, right?). And here’s another example of how little has changed: Congressional Democrats, in both the House and Senate, will have the exact same top leaders. "It is humbling and it is prideful to be elected leader by your caucus," Nancy Pelosi told reporters yesterday, per NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell and Luke Russert. So you have Pelosi as House minority leader, Steny Hoyer as minority whip, and James Clyburn as the No. 3 House Democrat. The only noticeable change was the appointment of Ben Ray Lujan as DCCC chair. Meanwhile, over in the Senate, Harry Reid will remain the top Democrat. Bottom line: You wouldn’t know from the party’s leaders: 1) that Democrats had lost eight (and possibly nine) Senate seats, and 2) that they’ve been reduced to their lowest number of House seats since the 1920s (!!!). In fairness, Republicans didn’t change their leaders after the GOP’s drubbing in the 2012 elections -- and they achieved victory two years later. But top Democrats are marching along as nothing happened on Nov. 4. Is that a good place for the party? Where’s the introspection?

NBC/WSJ Poll Day!

What are Americans’ thoughts after the election? Do they think anything has changed? How do they now view President Obama? And what do they want the new Congress to do next year? We’ll have answers for you from our brand-new NBC/WSJ poll, which comes out at 6:30 pm ET.

It’s a 2016-related day, too

Meanwhile, it’s a day of two competing Republican and Democratic confabs, with plenty of 2016 talk in the air. In Boca Raton, FL, the Republican Governors Association meets after the GOP’s impressive gubernatorial victories. At 2:15 pm ET, there’s a press briefing featuring outgoing RGA Chair (and potential 2016er) Chris Christie, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (another possible 2016er), and Florida Gov. Rick Scott, plus Gov.-elects Larry Hogan of Maryland and Bruce Rauner of Illinois. Then, at 3:15 pm, there’s a discussion -- moderated by one of your co-authors -- with other potential presidential candidates: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. On the Democratic side, the Center for American Progress is holding a daylong conference in DC with appearances by HUD Secretary (and VP possibility) Julian Castro at 9:20 am, Sen. Cory Booker (another potential VP) at 12:50 pm, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 3:45 pm ET.

Looking like a January announcement for Hillary?

Speaking of 2016, NBC’s Perry Bacon has some nuggets about Hillary Clinton’s likely presidential campaign. One, it’s beginning to look like she’ll announce in January. Two, (as others have reported), she’ll have her campaign headquarters in the NYC suburbs. And three, her campaign message will play up the possibility of electing the first female president -- more so than she did in 2008. More from Bacon: “Party sources emphasize there is still a small chance the former first lady will opt not to run, and some Democrats say there is no reason for her to begin a campaign so soon. But she is expected to begin preparation for a campaign over the next two months, while also giving speeches on some of her favorite causes, such as appearances at the Massachusetts Conference for Women and the League of Conservation Voters in December.”

Democrats block Keystone approval

Yesterday, Senate Democrats were able to deny 60 votes to supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline, which now moves the issue to next year’s 114th Congress. In the 59-41 vote, NBC’s Frank Thorp reports, 14 Democrats joined all 45 Republicans. Here are the 14 Democrats, per Thorp:

1) Sen Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

2) Sen Mark Begich (D-AK)

3) Sen Mark Pryor (D-AR)

4) Sen Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)

5) Sen Mark Warner (D-VA)

6) Sen Joe Donnelly (D-IN)

7) Sen Joe Manchin (D-WV)

8) Sen John Walsh (D-MT)

9) Sen Claire McCaskill (D-MO)

10) Sen Jon Tester (D-MT)

11) Sen Kay Hagan (D-NC)

12) Sen Bob Casey (D-PA)

13) Sen Tom Carper (D-DE)

14) Sen Michael Bennet (D-CO)

Interestingly, come the 114th Congress, you’ll probably only see supporters pick up two or three additional Keystone votes – in West Virginia (Jay Rockefeller was a “no,” but he’ll be replaced by Republican Shelley Moore Capito), in Colorado (defeated Mark Udall was a “no,” and he’ll be replaced by Republican Cory Gardner), and in Iowa (Tom Harkin will be replaced by Joni Ernst). Those potential 61 votes would be enough to overcome future filibusters, but they’re not enough to overcome a presidential veto.

Landrieu is the last Democratic senator in Deep South

The Keystone defeat, of course, wasn’t good news for Sen. Mary Landrieu, whose comments after the vote suggested her days might be numbered in the Senate with her runoff next month. “I came here 18 years ago, fighting to get here, fighting to stay here, and I’m going to fight for the people of my state until the day that I leave — I hope that will not be soon,” she said, per the New York Times. As one of us wrote yesterday, Landrieu is the last Senate Democrat left standing in the Deep South. Indeed, here’s a look at how the political representation has changed in the ENTIRE South since the 1960s:

87th Congress (1961-62): 22 Dems, 0 GOPers

93rd Congress (1973-74): 14 Dems, 7 GOPers

97th Congress (1981-82): 11 Dems, 10 GOPers

104th Congress (1994-96): 9 Dems, 13 GOPers

110th Congress (2007-08): 5 Dems, 17 GOPers

SOURCE: Vital Statistics on Congress

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