How significant is the news (first reported by Poli...er...POLITICO) that Rep. Parker Griffith, Democrat of Alabama, has decided to switch parties? Well, it's like an extra pinch of cinnamon in the egg nog for Republicans. But the truth is that the guy represents a district that really oughtn't be a Democratic district, demographically, and he wasn't much help to Democrats at crucial moments this year, voting against health care reform, the Lilly Ledbetter equal pay act, financial industry reform, the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill -- just to give a few examples. That said, he was a Democrat. He voted with his party about 85% of the time, according to the Post. His decision carries an array of psychological repercussions for other Democrats who might want to switch...the bandwagon effect..."social looking"....peer pressure. The repercussion for Griffith might be more severe than he thinks: assuming that Democrats retain their majority in 2010 (still about a 65-35 probability, in my completely out-of-my-armpit calculation), there'll be Democrats who'll want to punish him by withholding perks and goodies and money from his district, which is defense-dependent.
Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.