It's not surprising that senators from the same state and same party might vote alike. That's what you do when you are representing the same constituents. But every year, when National Journal comes out with its voter ratings, there are a few senators who vote so similarly that they are hard to differentiate. We call them, of course, Twins. Here are a few of the most noteworthy of 2012.
Tom Coburn and James Inhofe
If you're not from Oklahoma, it wouldn't be unreasonable to mistake Sen. Tom Coburn (right) for Sen. James Inhofe. Whenever Coburn isn't sporting his sweet beard (which used to have its own Twitter account), the two lawmakers look about the same—older, gray-haired white guys. Fortunately, for those who easily confuse the two, it almost doesn't matter which one you are talking to. That's because they have almost identical voting records, earning them the title of (nearly) identical twins here at National Journal.
Max Baucus and Jon Tester
Physically, Democratic Sens. Max Baucus (left) and Jon Tester of Montana couldn't even pass as brothers, let alone twins. Tester is a hefty, organic farmer with a buzz cut. Baucus is an elder statesman who chairs the Senate Finance Committee. But both of them have very similar voting records. In a state that oscillates between red and purple, its no surprise that these two Democrats occupy central ideological territory. On this year’s rankings for 2012, Baucus is the 46th most liberal senator and Tester is the 49th.
Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch
When Sen. Mike Lee of Utah (right) stormed into the Senate as the pride of the tea party in 2010, it was generally thought that he would outflank his senior counterpart, fellow Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch. But Hatch has managed to move to the right and keep pace with Lee. The two currently are the seventh most similar pair of same-state senators. Lee still is slightly more conservative (he's the seventh most conservative in the Senate, while Hatch is the 10th).
Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe
The Senate lost a great set of twins this past year when Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine (right) retired. In 2012, as in many years past, she and her counterpart, Susan Collins, represented a now-rare breed of moderate Republicans.
Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden
Last year, Sen. Jeff Merkley (left) was in a tie for most liberal member of the Senate. In his 2012 rankings, he has dropped to 34th most liberal. This brings him almost directly in line with his fellow Oregonian, Sen. Ron Wyden, who is the 35th most liberal member of the upper chamber.