Conservatives in An Age of Change: The Nixon and Ford Administrations

By James Reichley | Go to book overview
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The Demographic Distribution of Ideological Groups in the Ninety-first Congress

THE DISTRIBUTION of ideological groups in Congress has, as one would expect, a strong regional basis. Any division of the United States by political regions must to some extent be arbitrary. The scheme I have used seems to me to make the most analytical sense and to follow the categories most frequently used by the politicians themselves.

The South, in my system of classification, is composed of the eleven states that joined in 1861 to form the Confederacy. The Northeast consists of the six New England states, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The border states--the least satisfactorily and least internally cohesive "region"-- consist of six states that did not belong to the Confederacy but have strong cultural affinities with the South: Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Oklahoma. The Great Lakes states are the six states west of Pennsylvania that touch the Great Lakes, plus Iowa--in other words, the part of the Middle West most affected by industrialization. The Rocky Mountain-Great Plains region comprises the twelve sparsely populated states that occupy the entire western half of the United States except the Pacific coast. The Pacific region comprises the four West Coast states and Hawaii.

Some regional attributes of the Ninety-first Congress can be observed in table A-1. Republican fundamentalists in the Senate were drawn mainly from the South and the Rocky Mountain-Great Plains region, and in the House from those regions plus the Great Lakes region. Republican stalwarts, who at the beginning of 1969 included Senate Minority Leader Dirksen and House Minority Leader Ford, were concentrated in the Great Lakes region in the House and were rather evenly distributed in the Senate. The Republican moderates in the House were drawn mainly from the Northeast and Great Lakes region and in the Senate represented states in the Pacific, Northeast, and border regions. Republican progressives in both the Senate and the House were largely concentrated in the Northeast.

On the Democratic side, the traditionalists came mostly from the states that had belonged to the Confederacy; a few representatives came from the


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Conservatives in An Age of Change: The Nixon and Ford Administrations


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