National Journal's Vote Ratings

By Ben Domenech Posted in Comments (11) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

The National Journal's vote ratings are out, compiled from a list of 149 key congressional roll-call votes in the past year (63 votes in the Senate and 86 in the House). The following are the top ten Senators rated "most liberal" and "most conservative" in 2004. Note to those who care: Senator John Kerry, he of the previous "most liberal" label, did not vote enough to qualify for a rating. But he'll have plenty of time now to make up for it.

Most Conservative       Rating          Most Liberal            Rating
Don Nickles (R-OK)       91.5           Daniel Akaka (D-HI)      94.0
Craig Thomas (R-WY)      91.5           Richard Durbin (D-IL)    93.2
Wayne Allard (R-CO)      90.8           Paul Sarbanes (D-MD)     92.2
Jon Kyl (R-AZ)           90.8           Ted Kennedy (D-MA)       91.2
Mike Enzi (R-WY)         90.3           Jack Reed (D-RI)         90.3
Conrad Burns (R-MT)      89.5           Jon Corzine (D-NJ)       89.3
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)   88.3           Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)  88.5
Jim Bunning (R-KY)       87.3           Carl Levin (D-MI)        88.5
Larry Craig (R-ID)       87.3           Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)   85.7
Mike Crapo (R-ID)        87.3           Tom Harkin (D-IA)        84.5

I miss Don Nickles already, though I wonder if Senator Trainwreck would think his 91.5 a bit skittish. Prospective 2008 candidates and other tabulations are below.

Here are some prospective 2008 Presidential candidates - note that Allen and Frist are in the middle, but Santorum is actually left of the GOP center in his combined scores. On the Dem side, Clinton has a far more liberal ranking than Bayh.

Conservative Scores   '04   Lifetime     Liberal Scores         '04   Lifetime
Sam Brownback (R-KS)  84.2    82.5       John Kerry (D-MA)       NA     85.7
Rick Santorum (R-PA)  70.7    78.8       Hillary Clinton (D-NY) 71.0    80.7 
George Allen (R-VA)   75.5    78.2       Russ Feingold (D-WI)   82.8    80.2
Bill Frist (R-TN)     77.0    77.2       Chris Dodd (D-CT)      78.8    78.9
John McCain (R-AZ)    51.7    73.3       Joe Biden (D-DE)       78.7    76.6
Chuck Hagel (R-NE)    58.5    71.7       Evan Bayh (D-IN)       61.7    61.9
Lindsey Graham (R-SC) 69.0    67.4

The Senate's swing votes are as follows (now retired - Zell Miller and John Breaux):

Most Liberal GOPers                Most Conservative Dems
Lincoln Chafee (R-RI)  52.5        Zell Miller (D-GA)    75.5
Olympia Snowe (R-ME)   50.8        Ben Nelson (D-NE)     48.8
John McCain (R-AZ)     48.3        Max Baucus (D-MT)     42.7
Arlen Specter (R-PA)   48.3        Mary Landrieu (D-LA)  40.2
Mike DeWine (R-OH)     48.2        John Breaux (D-LA)    39.8

The House's swing votes are as follows (note: Amo Houghton, Charles Stenholm, Chris John, Brad Carson and Ken Lucas are no longer in the House, Rodney Alexander switched to the GOP):

Most Liberal GOPers                Most Conservative Dems
Jim Leach (R-IA)      57.8         Gene Taylor (D-MS)       54.2
Ron Paul (R-TX)       57.7         Charles Stenholm (D-TX)  51.5
Chris Shays (R-CT)    56.7         Rodney Alexander (D-LA)  51.3
Amo Houghton (R-NY)   51.8         Chris John (D-LA)        50.5
Nancy Johnson (R-CT)  51.8         Allen Boyd (D-FL)        50.3
Mike Castle (R-DE)    51.2         Bud Cramer (D-AL)        48.8
S. Boehlert (R-NY)    51.0         Brad Carson (D-OK)       48.7
Tim Johnson (R-IL)    50.8         Ken Lucas (D-KY)         48.5
Mark Kirk (R-IL)      50.8         Lincoln Davis (D-TN)     48.3
Rob Simmons (R-CT)    50.8         Mike McIntyre (D-NC)     48.2  

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National Journal's Vote Ratings 11 Comments (0 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

... four of them are from just two states (MI and NJ).  If Kerry had enough votes to get a rating out of, you'd have six of the top ten from three states.  MA you could expect that out of, but NJ and MI are seemingly "swing" states, and Michigan has more Republican representatives than Democrats, last I knew.  Being a red-state mind in a blue state (and, although not in Detroit metro, a relatively blue county... Bush won Manistee County by 17 votes from the information that I saw), it's somewhat disturbing, but not entirely unsurprising... Michigan is a state with probably more area being red than blue, but most red areas (exceptions being Kent, Ottawa, and possibly Grand Traverse County) being rather purple and counties like Wayne glowing almost a bloody shade of crimson... we get lunatics like Stabenow and the fossil Carl Levin.

...varied so much between lifetime and '04.  Wonder if that's just because of the short time that she's been in office.

Ron Paul, a liberal?  Hardly.  He is anti-war, bigtime; otherwise, he's a pro-life libertarian.

How do Barone &c. define conservatism?

So..Santorum gets in leadership, his numbers drop by more than 10% vs. lifetime. Surprise, surprise. Maybe we can dock him another 30 points for supporting Specter.

In seriousness, I'm actually impressed that Frist has been able to maintain his voting while being leader.

Speaking of which, what the hell is Santorum doing voting considerable to the left of his own leader?!

We're becoming the party of nationalized education, reduced states rights, and national driver's licenses...

The Real ID was a party line vote with the Republicans voting in FAVOR of trampling on the states.  Long live Ron Paul and conservatives rather than the current reactionary leadership.

Given the Ron Paul rating I'm inclined to distrust this entire rating.  It may be great for an ad against a Democrat, but for real analysis I think it's way too subjective.

wouldn't call himself a conservative - so why get torqued that Nat'l Journal doesn't either?

Ron Paul is opposed to many things I favor.

Such as roads.

The above ratings, unless designated as "lifetime" ratings, are actually just from one year, 2004.  I think that's important to remember.  A genuinely conservative, or genuinely liberal lawmaker might very well vote differently for the space of a year depending on the issues involved, the amendments tagged onto bills, etc.

But being opposed to roads is more conservative than being in favor of them...  Just because it's not wise doesn't mean it's not further to the right.

Is voting against Real ID conservative or liberal?

The National Journal's ranking are extremely unscientific and aren't very useful. They suffer from two major problems. First, the editors select which bills are considered in the analysis. Second, they do not report confidence intervals around their estimated ideal points. A reanalysis of Kerry's 2003 ranking found that he could be as conservative as Olympia Snowe and way more liberal than we ever imagined. This conservative/liberal ranking has been much more professionally done by Poole/Rosenthal. You can google "Keith Poole" and "University of Houston" to find it.

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