A conservative Democrat is a member of the Democratic Party in the United States who holds conservative views on social or economic issues. Despite that party's longstanding reputation as a liberal political party, the Democratic Party has always had a conservative wing. Conservative Democrats today are organized into the Blue Dog caucus in the House. Previously they were known by other names including "boll weevil Democrats" during the 1980s, when a large number of conservative Democrats voted with President Reagan on fiscal and social policy.
Most recently they were successful in the 2006 midterm elections when eight Blue Dog Democrats won election to the House  in addition to the ones who won re-election, and as of 2008 there are 47 Blue Dog Democrats in that body.
The American South had a long tradition of electing conservative Democrats to office, including in Presidential elections until they broke from the Democrats in 1964 to vote for Barry Goldwater, the Republican nominee. From 1948 to the 1970s an even more conservative wing of the party, mostly from the South, was called "Dixiecrats". This Dixiecrat wing of the party has been essentially defunct since the 1970s, when the House contingent was led by the late Joe Waggonner of Louisiana. A few former Dixiecrats, including Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, were early converts to the Republican Party, foreshadowing a long trend of conservatives leaving the Democrats and joining the Republicans that continued through the 1980s and 1990s.
Today there are several caucuses of people with conservative views in the Democratic Party. These conservative Democrats often find themselves at odds with the liberal majority of their party. The Blue Dog caucus in the House was organized in 1994 by conservative Democrats who believed the liberal wing of the party had "choked blue" conservative voices in the party. There is also a pro-life caucus within the Democrats called Democrats for Life of America currently led by Nat Hentoff, a pro-Second Amendment caucus called Amendment II Democrats which supports gun rights, and even a minority-held position within the environmentalist and organized labor movements opposed to unregulated immigration into the United States on environmental or job protection grounds, although it should be noted that these voices have been all but shut out by the current leadership of those movements.
The Democratic Leadership Council is occasionally referred to as "conservative" but it has some liberal views on both social and economic issues. It includes among its ranks Bill Clinton, Bill Richardson, and Hillary Clinton.
Notable conservative Democrats today
Zell Miller is a conservative Democrat who wrote a book, A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat, about his differences with the current party leadership.
A more recent book (published October 2007) in the Conservative Democrat column is Why the Democrats Are Blue by Mark Stricherz, a conservative pro-life Catholic and a Democrat. He traces the Democratic Party's takeover in the 1968-1972 period by wealthy secularist liberals who pushed the party's old socially conservative working class coalition of northern Catholics and southern Protestants out of the party leadership, and made pro-abortion, gun control, and similar liberal positions the dominant views in the party.
In 2008, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in South Carolina, Bob Conley,ran to the right of the Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham. The paleoconservative Bob Conley narrowly won a contested Democratic primary over the liberal Democrat activist, Michael Cone, who was supported mainly by out of state liberal bloggers.
Charley Reese is a conservative newspaper columnist who recently announced his retirement from writing.
- Briggs, Vernon. Immigration and American Unionism. Cornell University Press, 2001.
- Beck, Roy and Leon Kolankiewicz. The Environmental Movement's Retreat from Advocating U.S. Population Stabilization (1970 - 1998): A First Draft of History. Journal of Policy History, (ISSN 0898-0306) Vol 12, No 1, 2000
- A Moderate Democrat's Open Letter to Republicans: Please Don't Throw Away This Election
- Hypocrites of Homosexuality
- One Party Rule Forever!