Guide To Usage
The Almanac of American Politics is designed to be self-explanatory. The following guide provides a brief description of each section and a list of sources from which information was derived, both of which serve as a road map to understanding the meaning behind the figures.
Population. All population figures, excluding unemployment rates and voter registration, are from the Bureau of the Census, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington D.C. 20230, 301-763-4040. Official April 1, 1990, Census figures are used as well July 1, 1996, estimates for each state.
Race and Ethnic Origin. For the 1990 Census, the Census Bureau asked people what their race or ethnic origin was. Race, as defined by the Bureau of the Census, reflects the individual respondents' perception of his or her racial identity and does not reflect any biological or anthropological definition. The basic racial categories are: American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian or Pacific Islander; Black; and White. Hispanic origin is defined as an ethnicity, and includes those who classified themselves in one of three specific Hispanic categories on the census form (Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican) or as of "other Spanish/Hispanic origin"; persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. The "Other" category was intended to include those persons who do not consider themselves to be in the basic racial or ethnic categories.
Households and Housing Information. A Household is defined as including all persons occupying a housing unit; a Married Couple Family is a household of persons related by marriage. Owner occupied housing units include only single-family houses on less than ten acres with no business or medical office on the property. The value of a housing unit is the respondent's estimate of how much the unit would sell for if it were for sale, and determines Median House Value. Monthly rent is defined as the per-month contract rent agreed to for a unit, regardless of any goods or services that may be included (e.g. utilities), and determines Median Monthly Rent.
Age. The Bureau of the Census defines age as based on the number of years a person completed as of April 1, 1990. This definition was used to determine the voting age population, the percentage of population over 65 years of age, and the median age. Many people, however, provided their age as of the date they completed the census form rather than the definition provided by the Bureau of the Census.
Education. The level of higher education is measured by the Census from persons over 25 years of age who have pursued vocational, public, or private forms of college education not necessarily leading to graduation.
Unemployment. All unemployment figures are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C. 20210, 202-606-7828. These figures represent the average rate of unemployment for each state for 1996.
Registered Voters. Registered voter numbers are from the individual states' election bureaus or political parties, and represent the number of voters officially registered as close as possible to the November 1996 election. Some states have no voter registration.
Political Lineup. This block includes the names of top state officials as well as a breakdown by party of the state legislative bodies. The names of U.S. senators and a party breakdown of the state's congressional delegation are also provided.
Presidential Vote. The 1992 and 1996 presidential vote is included for each state and congressional district. Presidential vote by state and by congressional district was derived from state, county and precinct results as compiled by the staff of the National Committee for an Effective Congress (NCEC), 122 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001, 202-638-8300. The 1992 presidential vote by congressional district was recalculated in six states to reflect redistricting (remapping) changes. The six states are: Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina and Texas. Results of the presidential primaries were provided by the states and the FEC. Caucus results are not provided.
Biography. This section lists when each governor, senator and representative was elected or appointed, date and place of birth, home, college education and degrees obtained (if any), religion, marital status and, if applicable, spouse's name. Also listed is a brief outline of the politician's career, including military service in the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, National Guard, or Reserves, and his or her office addresses and telephone numbers. Committee and subcommittee assignments are provided as well. (Note: On many committees, the chairman and ranking minority member are ex officio members of each subcommittee on which they do not hold a regular assignment.)
Group Ratings. The congressional rating statistics of 11 interest groups provide an idea of a legislator's general ideology and the degree to which the legislator represents different groups' interests. Not just a record of liberal/conservative voting behavior, these ratings come from a range of groups concerned with everything from single issues (environmental concerns) to the political interests of a particular sector (e.g., consumers). The order of the groups is such that the more "liberal" groups are on the left and the more "conservative" are on the right. Four groups, ACLU, NFIB, NTLC and CHC release ratings only once every two years, the duration of one full congressional session. Following is a general description of each organization, its address and telephone number.
ADA Americans for Democratic Action
1625 K St., N.W., #210, Washington, D.C. 20006, 202-785-5980.
Liberal: Since its founding in 1947, ADA members have pushed for legislation designed to reduce inequality, curtail rising defense spending, prevent encroachments on civil liberties and promote international human rights. The ADA uses a broad spectrum of issues for its vote analysis.
ACLU American Civil Liberties Union
122 Maryland Ave., N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002, 202-544-1681.
Pro-individual liberties: ACLU seeks to protect individuals from legal, executive and congressional infringement on basic rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The ACLU ratings are published for every Congress; the 1992 ratings include the years 1991 and 1992.
AFSAmerican Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
1625 L St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, 202-429-5020.
Liberal Labor: As the nation's largest public employee and health care workers union, representing more than 1.3 million members, AFSCME is committed to achieving dignity and improving working conditions through collective bargaining. The AFSCME voting records are based on a representative sample of roll call votes from the First and Second Sessions of the 104th Congress.
LCV League of Conservation Voters
1707 L St., N.W., #750, Washington, D.C. 20036, 202-785-8683.
Environmental: Formed in 1970, LCV is the national, non-partisan arm of the environmental movement. LCV works to elect pro-environmental candidates to Congress. LCV ratings are based on key votes concerning energy, environment and natural resource issues, selected by leaders from major national environmental organizations.
CFA Consumer Federation of America
1424 16th St., N.W., #604, Washington, D.C. 20036, 202-387-6121.
Pro-Consumer: CFA is a group spawned in the mid-sixties as a pro-consumer counterweight to various business-oriented lobbies. Their vote ratings concentrate on pocketbook consumer issues and health and safety concerns.
CON Concord Coalition
1019 19th St., N.W., #810, Washington, D.C. 20036, 202-467-6222.
Pro-Balanced Budget: The Concord Coalition is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to eliminating the federal budget deficit by the year 2000. The Coalition, with members and active chapters in all 50 states, is determined to educate the American public about the dangers of the federal deficit.
NFIB National Federation of Independent Business
600 Maryland Ave., S.W., #700, Washington, D.C. 20024, 202-554-9000.
Pro-Small Business: The National Federation of Independent Business represents small and independent business owners -- every kind and size of commerical enterprise; high-tech, family farmers, neighborhood retailers and service companies. Founded in 1943, NFIB gives small and independent business a voice in governmental decision making in Washington, D.C. and all 50 states.
COC Chamber of Commerce of the United States
1615 H Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20062, 202-659-6000.
Pro-business: Founded in 1912 as a voice for organized business, COC represents local, regional and state chambers of commerce in addition to trade and professional organizations.
ACU American Conservative Union
1007 Cameron St., Alexandria, VA 22314, 703-836-8602.
Conservative: Since 1971, ACU ratings have provided a means of gauging the conservatism of members of Congress. Foreign policy, social and budget issues are their primary concerns.
NTLC National Tax-Limitation Committee
151 North Sunrise Ave., #901, Roseville, CA 95661, 916-786-9400.
Pro-tax limitation: NTLC was organized in 1975 to seek constitutional and other limits on taxes, spending and deficits at the state and federal levels. NTLC actively pursues a balanced budget/tax limitation amendment to the U.S. Constitution. These ratings are based on budget issue votes and bills which would have a major impact on long-term goverment taxing and spending programs.
CHC Christian Coalition
227 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E., #101, Washington, D.C. 20002, 202-547-3600.
Conservative: Pro-family citizen organization and national lobby founded in 1989 working for family-friendly public policy on a local, state and national level with 1.5 million members and activists.
National Journal Ratings. National Journal's rating system establishes an objective method of analyzing congressional voting. A panel of National Journal editors and staff initially compiled a list of congressional roll call votes and classified them as either economic, social or foreign policy-related. Professor Garrison Nelson of the University of Vermont provided the computerized roll-call data. The interrelationship of these votes was shown by a statistical procedure called "principal components analysis," which revealed which "yea" votes and which "nay" votes fit a liberal or a conservative pattern. The votes in each of the three subject areas were computer-weighted to reflect the degree they fit the common pattern. All members of Congress who participated in at least half of the votes in each area received ratings; those who missed more that half the votes were not scored (shown as *). Absences and abstentions were not counted.
Members of Congress were then ranked according to relative liberalism and conservatism. Finally, they were assigned percentiles showing their rank relative to others in their chamber. Percentile scores range from a minimum of 0 to a maximum of 99. Because some members voted liberal or conservative on every roll call, however, there are ties at the liberal and conservative ends of each scale. For that reason, the maximum percentiles often turn out to be less than 99.
Election Results. Listed for each member of the House are results of the 1996 general, runoff and primary elections, as well as the 1994 general elections (results of any special elections are also listed). Gubernatorial and senatorial results are presented in a like manner. Votes and percentages are included, indicating the margin of victory (due to the process of rounding up and rounding down, some totals may equal more or less than 100%). Candidates receiving less than 4% of the total vote are grouped together and listed as "Other." Dollar amounts listed to the right of the vote totals are campaign expenditures as reported by the candidate to the Federal Election Commission. Election returns were provided by Election Data Services Inc., 1225 Eye Street, N.W., #700, Washington, D.C. 20005, 202-789-2004.
All data are derived from candidates' campaign finance reports and party reports available from the Federal Election Commission (FEC), 999 E St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20463, 202-219-3440 (toll free, 1-800-424-9530). The dollar figure, in parentheses to the right of the election results, represent the candidates net disbursements (expenditures) for the period beginning January 1, 1995, and ending December 31, 1996. These figures may not include any any candidate loans which have been repaid, nor does it include any corrections or amendments filed with the FEC after December 31, 1996.
Key Votes of the 104th Congress
Key Votes. The Key Votes section attempts to illustrate a legislator's stance on important votes where he or she must vote for or against a national issue. The process grossly oversimplifies the legislative system where months of debate, amendment, pressure, persuasion, and compromise go into a final floor vote. However, the voting record remains the best indication of a member's general ideologies and position on specific issues.
Following is a list of key votes used. A member who was absent, voted present, or who was not in office at the time of a particular vote receives an asterisk. The votes were drawn from Legi-Slate, a computer system tracking legislation, voting attendance, committee schedules, etc. For information on Legi-Slate or their vote recording process, please contact: Legi-Slate, 777 N. Capitol St., N.E., #900, Washington, D.C. 20002, 202-898-2300.
House Votes, 104th Congress:
- Reduce Medicare Growth $ (HR 2425) House voted to reduce projected spending for medicare by $270 billion over the next seven years. October 19, 1995. Vote No. 731: Passed 231-201; (D: 4-194; R: 227-6).
- Override Product Liability Veto (HR 956) House failed to override President Clinton's veto of the bill to limit damages in product liability cases. May 9, 1996. Vote No. 162: Failed two-thirds majority 258-163; (D: 33-157; R: 225-5).
- Increase Minimum Wage (HR 1227) House approved an increase in the minimum wage for most workers to $5.15 per hour as of July 1, 1997. May 23, 1996. Vote No. 192: Passed 266-162; (D: 188-6; R: 77-156).
- Welfare Reform (HR 3734) House passed reform of welfare laws, including imposition of a five-year restriction on welfare benefits and a requirement that beneficiaries find work within two years. July 18, 1996. Vote No. 331: Passed 256-170; (D: 30-165; R: 226-4).
- Flag Amendment (HJRes 79) House passed constitutional amendment to allow Congress and the states to pass laws that prohibit desecration of the U.S. flag. June 28, 1995. Vote No. 431: Passed 312-120; (D: 93-107; R: 219-12).
- Drop EPA Limits (HR 2099) House dropped proposed limitations on the enforcement authority of the Environmental Protection Agency. November 2, 1995. Vote No. 762: Passed 227-194; (D: 163-29; R: 63-165).
- Repeal Assault-Weapons Ban (HR 125) House voted to repeal the ban on the manufacture or sale of certain assault weapons. March 22, 1996. Vote No. 92: Passed 239-173; (D: 56-130; R: 183-42).
- Override Partial-birth Abortion Veto (HR 1833) House overrode President Clinton's veto of the bill barring "partial-birth" abortions. September 19, 1996. Vote No. 422: Passed 285-137; (D: 70-121; R: 215-15).
- Cuban Embargo (HR 927) House tightened the U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba. September 21, 1995. Vote No. 683: Passed 294-130; (D: 67-125; R: 227-4).
- Bar Bosnia Troop Funding (HR 2770) House defeated proposal to prohibit funds for deployment of U.S. troops in Bosnia. December 13, 1995. Vote No. 856: Failed 210-218: (D: 20-175; R: 190-42).
- Cut Anti-Missile Defense (HR 3230) House defeated proposal to cut $109 million from anti-missile defense program to pay for surface-to-air missiles. May 15, 1996. Vote No. 173: Failed 185-240: (D: 182-12; R: 2-228).
- Bar U.N. Uniforms (HR 3308) House voted to prohibit any requirement that U.S. military forces wear a United Nations uniform. September 5, 1996. Vote No. 404: Passed 276-130; (D: 65-118; R: 211-11).
Senate Votes, 104th Congress:
- Reduce Medicare Growth $ (HR 2491) Senate voted to reduce projected spending for entitlement programs, including medicare, to balance the federal budget in 2002. October 27, 1995. Vote No. 556: Passed 52-47; (D: 0-46; R: 52-1).
- Limit Product Liability Damages (HR 956) Senate approved the conference report on the bill to limit damages in product liability cases. March 21, 1996. Vote No. 46: Passed 59-40; (D: 12-34; R: 47-6).
- Increase Minimum Wage (HR 3448) Senate approved an increase in the minimum wage for most workers to $5.15 per hour as of July 1, 1997. July 9, 1996. Vote No. 186: Passed 74-24; (D: 47-0; R: 27-24).
- Welfare Reform (HR 3734) Senate passed reform of welfare laws, including imposition of a five-year restriction on welfare benefits and a requirement that beneficiaries find work within two years. July 23, 1996. Vote No. 232: Passed 74-24; (D: 23-23; R: 51-1).
- Flag Amendment (SJRes 31) Senate failed to pass constitutional amendment to allow Congress and the states to pass laws that prohibit desecration of the U.S. flag. December 12, 1995. Vote No. 600: Failed two-thirds majority 63-36; (D: 14-32; R: 49-4).
- Endangered Species (HR 3019) Senate defeated proposal to place a moratorium on the listing of endangered species. March 13, 1996. Vote No. 30: Failed 49-51; (D: 42-5; R: 7-46).
- Gay Employment Rights (S 2056) Senate defeated bill to prohibit job discrimination based on sexual orientation. September 10, 1996. Vote No. 281: Failed 49-50; (D: 41-5; R: 8-45).
- Override Partial-birth Abortion Veto (HR 1833) Senate failed to override President Clinton's veto of the bill barring "partial-birth" abortions. September 26, 1996. Vote No. 301: Failed two-thirds majority 57-41; (D: 12-35; R: 45-6).
- Anti-Missile Defense (S 1026) Senate tabled proposal to cut $300 million from anti-missile defense program. August 3, 1995. Vote No. 354: Tabled 51-48; (D: 4-42; R: 47-6).
- Cuban Embargo (HR 927) Senate tightened the U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba. October 19, 1995. Vote No. 494: Passed 74-24; (D: 23-22; R: 51-2).
- Bar Bosnia Troop Funding (HR 2606) Senate defeated proposal to prohibit funds for deployment of U.S. troops in Bosnia. December 13, 1995. Vote No. 601: Failed 22-77; (D: 1-45; R: 21-32).
- Cut Vietnam Aid (HR 3540) Senate defeated a proposal to strike $1.5 million in economic aid to Vietnam. July 25, 1996. Vote No. 239: Failed 43-56; (D: 10-36; R: 33-20).
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