What is the SD on the Reagan era congress?

I often run into conflicting opinions on the congress during the Reagan presidency. Republicans are always happy to point out that both the senate and the house had a democrat majority, so Reagan had to work in a bipartisan way and his policies were passed with a solid consensus of everybody. On the other hand, liberals will point out that a large portion of that democratic majority were conservative southern democrats, so while the democrats controlled congress, the conservatives had the majority.

Was there a conservative group of democrats that generally voted with the republicans during the Reagan era? If so, why weren’t they republicans in the first place? Were there any republicans that generally voted with the democrats?

I see that todays democratic congress includes a block of “Blue Dog” democrats that define themselves as conservatives. Is there a similar block of republicans that define themselves as liberal?

Republicans had a majority in the Senate for the first six years of Reagan’s presidency.

Within the House, conservative white Southern Democrats were called “boll weevils” at the time. There were more of them then than now. They were enough to make a majority when they combined with Republicans.

Reagan’s policies certainly didn’t pass with a “solid consensus of everybody”. He was excoriated by liberals in terms similar to those used about Bush today. The difference is, that Reagan remained popular within his own party.

Local politics, more than anything else. In many states, one party controls more elective offices, more patronage positions, more influence in general. If you want to play politics in that state, you pretty much have to be a part of the majority party. After a few election cycles, it pretty much becomes institutionalized.

Too-liberal-to-be-Republicans-anywhere-else are still found in the Northeast, with Senators like Olympia Snowe, conservative in many respects, but also pro-choice and pro-gay rights.