Maverick Conservatives When President Bush praised last year’s Medicare reform legislation as “the greatest advance in health care coverage for America’s seniors” since the program was created in 1965, most congressional Republicans agreed, at least publicly. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, an icon for many conservatives, declared that the new law “provides more choice and greater quality care at a lower cost.”
But to a small though steadfast group of conservative Republican lawmakers, the bill was an abomination. They were appalled that their party would rally around the creation of such a costly and complicated new government entitlement — especially one that failed to infuse sufficient private-sector competition into the traditional Medicare program.
“We gave up too much to get too little,” recounted conservative Rep. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who was among the 25 House Republicans and nine GOP senators who voted against the conference report on the Medicare bill in November. DeMint, who is running this year for an open Senate seat, blames the more moderate Senate for forcing the House to accept a final version of the legislation that bore “too great a price.”
But the outcome left DeMint and the other limited-government Republican stalwarts in a curious position: They were aligned with most Democrats in voting no on the Medicare bill. And that vote wasn’t the only instance last year in which a small group of GOP conservatives bucked their party’s agenda and joined hands with the Democratic minority. On numerous key votes — including on the fiscal 2004 supplemental spending bill for military and reconstruction aid to Iraq, on legislation combating illegal drugs from South America, and on the fiscal 2004 omnibus appropriations bill — a stubborn band of Republicans concluded that party loyalty was too big a pill to swallow.
So, who — or what — defined the real congressional conservatives last year? Were they the Republican true-believers who stuck to their principles and stood against the overwhelming majority of their own party? Or were they the GOP leaders who made the compromises that were necessary, and inevitable, to govern successfully?
Like the proverbial question of whether a parishioner can be “more Catholic than the Pope,” the standard may be illusory. But National Journal’s congressional vote ratings for 2003 offer one measure of what happens when rank-and-file Republican lawmakers seek to be more ideologically pure than their president or their GOP congressional leaders. The vote ratings place DeMint and other like-minded Republicans in the unfamiliar — and, to some, uncomfortable — position of sacrificing some of their conservative credentials.
Although the same statistical model has been used to calculate the annual vote ratings since 1981, last year’s unusual legislative dynamics produced significant upheaval among some members who had been perennially rated among the most conservative on Capitol Hill. Take the 15 House Republicans who voted against the final versions of both the Medicare and the omnibus spending bills. By and large, they have long been staunch conservatives, but in 2003, their composite conservative scores in the ratings dropped — some by as much 15 points — because they sided with Democrats on some major votes. The upshot was that the 2003 scores of these conservative members actually placed them among their party’s moderate wing. (See chart below.)
This group of 15 maverick House conservatives includes DeMint. In an interview, he said that in past years, such as when he was among the top six House conservatives in the 1999 and the 2001 vote ratings, he was “proud” to cite his scores to constituents. By contrast, when DeMint was informed that his 2003 scores placed him near the center of House Republicans, he responded that National Journal should revise its ratings system.
Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, was another maverick conservative. He was among the half-dozen most-conservative House members in 1999, but his conservative scores have declined noticeably since then. When informed of the change, Chabot chuckled and called the results “ironic.” He explained that he voted against the Medicare and omnibus spending bills because, “as a conservative, I believe that we should reduce spending.” Chabot said he listened to pleas from his fellow Republicans for party loyalty but then “voted my conscience.”
Chabot’s apostasy on six of the 73 House votes that National Journal used in the 2003 vote ratings left him with a composite conservative score of 68.2 percent. That contrasts starkly with his 93.3 percent composite conservative score in 1999, when he had nearly perfect conservative scores.
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, is also among the 15 House Republicans who voted against the Medicare and omnibus bills. He is a self-styled libertarian (he was the Libertarian candidate for president in 1988) who in recent years has become a leader of Republicans willing to challenge what they see as their party’s excessive spending and regulation.
Paul has assembled an informal group, known as the Liberty Committee, that counts 23 House Republican members who meet regularly and are dedicated to Paul’s goals of “free markets, private property, and limited, constitutional government in our nation’s capital.” (The group includes 10 of the 15 Republicans in the accompanying chart of maverick conservatives.) Informed about his 2003 vote ratings, which give him a composite conservative score of 40, Paul responded, “My position in the House has become stronger as more of the public sees what’s wrong with the federal government.”
The sole House member with a perfect conservative score in 2003 was House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., who has prided himself on loyalty to Bush. (One surprising aspect of Hastert’s rating is that he received any score at all. Historically, speakers have not voted often enough for National Journal to rate them.) DeLay was tied with four other Republicans for second place among the most-conservative House members.
A similar pattern resulted in the Senate, where some GOP renegades also broke with their party on key votes. The 13 senators, all Republicans, who tied for the highest conservative score included Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, Majority Whip Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. By contrast, freshman Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and John Sununu, R-N.H. — both of whom are known as conservatives who exhibit occasional independent streaks — found themselves ranked near the center of the Senate in 2003, alongside maverick Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Graham, Sununu, and McCain all opposed the Medicare bill conference report.
The results mark the first time in the 23-year history of the vote ratings that party loyalty, in effect, trumped the intended measure of ideological commitment for some lawmakers — the small band of maverick conservatives. “Those votes are anomalous for a small group of members, but the overwhelming majority of members voted in a conservative way,” said William Schneider, the veteran political commentator for CNN who writes a weekly column for National Journal. The members of that small group “are making a conservative statement by voting with the liberals when a Republican president is creating a new entitlement.”
Schneider, a former political science professor at Harvard University, created National Journal’s vote ratings with the late Alan Baron, a Democratic activist and author of a Washington-based political newsletter.
The ratings rank members of Congress on how they vote relative to each other on a conservative-to-liberal scale in each chamber. The scores are based on lawmakers’ votes in three areas: economic issues, social issues, and foreign policy. The scores are determined by a computer-assisted calculation that ranks members from one end of the ideological spectrum to the other, based on key votes — 62 votes in the Senate and 73 votes in the House — selected by National Journal reporters and editors.
For example, the results show that on economic policy issues, Chabot had a conservative score of 71 and a liberal score of 27. That means that he was more conservative than 71 percent of other House members on those issues and more liberal than 27 percent; he tied the remaining 2 percent. The scores do not mean that he voted with conservatives 71 percent of the time, nor that he was 71 percent “correct” from a conservative perspective. (For more details on how the vote ratings are calculated, see box, next page.)
As the ratings are tabulated, the votes in each issue area are subjected to a principal-components analysis, a statistical procedure designed to determine the degree to which each vote resembled other votes in the same category (the same members tending to vote together). The computer analysis assigned a weight — from 1 (lowest) to 3 (highest) — to each roll-call vote, based on the degree to which it correlated with other votes in the same issue area. A higher weight means that a vote was more strongly correlated with other votes and was therefore a better test of economic, social, or foreign-policy ideology.
In the 2003 ratings for economic issues in the House, National Journal used two votes from the Medicare debate: when the chamber first passed its version on June 27, and when it approved the conference report on November 22. The computer tabulations weighted each of those votes as “3,” meaning that they closely fit the overall results, even with the seemingly anomalous votes of the small group of conservative Republicans.
Critics might suggest that National Journal should have dropped the Medicare votes from the 2003 ratings. (Each year, several votes are dropped from the analysis because they are statistically unrelated to others in the same issue area. Typically, these are votes that reflected regional and special-interest concerns, rather than general ideology.) But in this case, the two Medicare votes met the standard to the highest degree possible, giving them their weighting of “3.”
In the bigger picture, the rebellion of a small band of congressional conservatives is an important political development that bears watching. The conservatives are putting intense pressure on their party leaders to demonstrate fiscal conservatism during this election year, in light of mounting concerns over the ballooning federal budget deficit. Bush has proposed a fiscal 2005 budget that would allow just a 0.5 percent boost in spending, except for defense and homeland security. While that spending increase would be tiny compared with recent years, the House Republican Study Committee, an 85-member-strong group of conservatives, wants to tighten the belt even further.
“While [the president] showed restraint in several areas, the total spending is still too high,” Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., the group’s chairwoman, said when Bush released his budget in early February. “My RSC colleagues and I will continue to work with the president to reduce spending…. Congress has got to get in the mind-set of spending less.”
Whether rank-and-file GOP conservatives will be satisfied with the decisions that the Republican leadership makes this year on spending and other key issues — and whether some conservatives will be bold enough to revolt if they’re not satisfied — is a major question permeating this legislative session. House Republican leaders remain mindful that in 1997, a group of junior conservatives instigated the unsuccessful coup attempt against Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., that rocked the party and led to Gingrich’s downfall a year later.
A House Republican leadership aide said the unusual results in National Journal’s 2003 vote ratings are a reminder that the bitterly fought Medicare battle “left a lot of blood” within the GOP. The leadership aide appeared to sympathize with the conservatives’ complaints about the cost of the Medicare bill, calling it “a promise that we made during the era of budget surplus, and that we had gone too far down the road not to deliver.” But the aide contended that any hard feelings among House Republicans have mostly healed during internal discussions in recent weeks.
Party mavericks — and potential mavericks — are well aware that challenging the leadership is not exactly a useful tool for advancement in the House. GOP leaders tend to have long memories and to scorn members they view as unwilling to share the responsibilities of governing.
Of the 15 House Republicans who voted against both the Medicare and the omnibus spending bill, only Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona serves on one of the House’s “exclusive” committees — Appropriations, Energy and Commerce, Rules, and Ways and Means. No others are likely to win such a plum assignment anytime soon. Like DeMint, Rep. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is leaving the House to seek a Senate seat; he is challenging veteran Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., in an April primary. Still, congressional leaders can be highly creative in coming up with ways to keep their members in line.
Kerry and Edwards On the night of February 17, after finishing a surprisingly close second to Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., in the Wisconsin primary, Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., made the rounds of television interviews and repeated what has become a familiar theme. Asked on CNN about his campaign strategy, Edwards replied that he planned to emphasize the contrasts between him and the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“I think it’s important for people to know the differences between us,” Edwards said. “I like and respect John Kerry very much. And I think he feels the same way about me. But we have differences.” Edwards added a few moments later: “There are clear differences between us. Now those differences will become more apparent to Democratic voters.”
Judging by National Journal’s congressional vote ratings, however, Kerry and Edwards aren’t all that different, at least not when it comes to how they voted on key issues before the Senate last year. The results of the vote ratings show that Kerry was the most liberal senator in 2003, with a composite liberal score of 96.5. But Edwards wasn’t far behind: He had a 2003 composite liberal score of 94.5, making him the fourth-most-liberal senator.
National Journal’s vote ratings rank members of Congress on how they vote relative to each other on a conservative-to-liberal scale in each chamber. The scores, which have been compiled each year since 1981, are based on lawmakers’ votes in three areas: economic policy, social policy, and foreign policy. The scores are determined by a computer-assisted calculation that ranks members from one end of the ideological spectrum to the other, based on key votes — 62 in the Senate in 2003 — selected by National Journal reporters and editors. (For more details on how the vote ratings are calculated, see box below.)
The fact that Kerry and Edwards had such similar scores in 2003 is striking, because during the course of their Senate careers, their ratings have often placed them in different wings of their party.
Kerry has compiled a generally more liberal voting record. After winning election to the Senate in 1984, he ranked among the most-liberal senators during three years of his first term, according to National Journal’s vote ratings. In those years — 1986, 1988, and 1990 — Kerry did not vote with Senate conservatives a single time out of the total of 138 votes used to prepare those ratings. (See chart on Kerry’s lifetime vote ratings, below.)
Edwards, on the other hand, had a moderate voting record during the first four years following his election to the Senate in 1998. The results positioned Edwards comfortably apart from Senate liberals, but not so far to the right that he locked arms with centrist Republicans. His consistent moderation placed Edwards among the center-right of Senate Democrats. But once Edwards decided to run for president and abandoned his bid for a second Senate term, his record moved dramatically to the left in 2003. (See chart on Edwards’s lifetime vote ratings, next page.)
Last year, Kerry, Edwards, and other congressional Democrats who were seeking the presidency, including Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri, missed many votes. To qualify for a score in National Journal’s vote ratings, members must participate in at least half of the votes in an issue category. Of the 62 Senate votes used to compute the 2003 ratings, Kerry was absent for 37 votes and Edwards missed 22.
As a result, in the 2003 vote ratings, Kerry received a rating only in the economic policy category, earning a perfect liberal score. Edwards received ratings in the categories of economic and social issues, also putting up perfect liberal scores.
A separate analysis showed that of the votes that Kerry cast in the two categories in which he did not receive scores in 2003 — social policy and foreign policy — he consistently took the liberal view within the Senate. Edwards did not receive a score in the foreign-policy category; he sided with the liberals on five votes in that area, and with the conservatives on one vote. On foreign policy, Kerry and Edwards — both of whom supported the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq — last year joined most Senate Democrats in voting that half of the U.S. reconstruction aid to Iraq be provided as loans, a provision that ultimately was dropped.
To be sure, Kerry’s ranking as the No. 1 Senate liberal in 2003 — and his earning of similar honors three times during his first term, from 1985 to 1990 — will probably have opposition researchers licking their chops. As shown in the accompanying chart, Kerry had a perfect liberal rating on social issues during 10 of the 18 years in which he received a score, meaning that he did not side with conservatives on a single vote in those years. That included his 1996 vote, with 13 other Senate Democrats, against the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited federal recognition of states’ same-sex marriage laws. Along the campaign trail, Republicans likely will remind voters of Kerry’s stance on that issue.
But interestingly, during Kerry’s second term, from 1991 to 1996, he dropped back into the pack of Democratic senators and voted more moderately. In those years, he earned composite liberal scores in National Journal’s vote ratings ranging from 78.2 to 85.8.
Kerry was especially moderate in his second term when it came to foreign-policy issues. He opposed the liberal position in key Senate showdowns on missile-defense and intelligence spending in 1993, and on procurement of additional F-18 Navy fighters in 1996. Such votes could provide Kerry with some useful talking points for his presidential campaign. Kerry also voted with President Clinton and congressional Republicans, but against many liberals, in favor of welfare reform in 1996, and he occasionally split from organized labor on workplace issues.
Meanwhile, Edwards, the son of a textile worker, has frequently pointed to trade issues as one of the key “differences” between him and his opponent. He has criticized Kerry’s support for the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993 and for other international trade deals during the Clinton presidency. (While Edwards did not serve in the Senate during much of that time, news reports confirm that he opposed NAFTA during his 1998 campaign, although it was not a major campaign issue.)
In fact, both senators have spotty records on trade issues. This helps to explain why organized labor backed other Democratic candidates in the early presidential caucuses and primaries.
Edwards voted with Kerry in 2000 to establish trade relations with China, and in 2002 to extend presidential trade-negotiating authority. Also in 2000, Edwards split from Kerry by opposing legislation to drop U.S. trade barriers with Africa and the Caribbean. (That vote was excluded from National Journal’s Senate vote ratings because it did not correlate statistically.) In July 2003, Edwards opposed free-trade agreements with Chile and Singapore, each of which passed the Senate handily, despite mostly Democratic opposition. Kerry missed both votes.
Almanac of American Politics research director Elizabeth Levin assisted in preparing the 2003 vote ratings.
John Kerry The following chart shows the scores of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., in National Journal’s annual vote ratings since he joined the Senate in 1985.
Kerry was more liberal than — percent of Senate on these issues: Economic Social Foreign 1985 86 88 88 1986 94 92 75 1987 65 96 74 1988 86 86 86 1989 94 63 75 1990 92 81 83 1991 80 87 78 1992 84 84 65 1993 83 87 67 1994 72 85 72 1995 77 74 79 1996 74 92 77 1997 79 71 87 1998 83 74 86 1999 80 81 78 2000 84 66 70 2001 93 81 74 2002 95 82 73 2003 93 * * Lifetime Average 83.9 81.7 77.1
Kerry was more conservative than — percent of Senate on these issues: Economic Social Foreign 1985 11 0 0 1986 0 0 0 1987 26 0 19 1988 0 0 0 1989 3 31 21 1990 0 0 0 1991 16 0 14 1992 12 11 26 1993 0 8 30 1994 18 7 22 1995 21 25 15 1996 19 0 17 1997 18 0 8 1998 10 0 12 1999 17 12 13 2000 11 21 28 2001 0 8 14 2002 0 0 26 2003 0 * * Lifetime Average 9.6 6.8 14.7
Composite Composite Liberal Conservative Score Score 1985 91.8 95.2 1986 93.5 93.5 1987 81.7 91.8 1988 93.0 93.0 1989 79.5 93.5 1990 92.7 92.7 1991 85.8 95.0 1992 80.7 95.0 1993 83.2 94.5 1994 80.3 95.2 1995 78.2 96.8 1996 84.5 93.5 1997 85.2 93.2 1998 86.8 93.2 1999 82.8 94.2 2000 76.7 93.5 2001 87.7 97.7 2002 87.3 95.5 2003 96.5 96.5 Lifetime Average 85.7
* Indicates that the senator missed more than half the votes in this issue category and therefore did not receive a score. John Edwards The following chart shows the scores of Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., in National Journal’s annual vote ratings since he joined the Senate in 1999.
Edwards was more liberal than — percent of Senate on these issues: Economic Social Foreign 1999 58 81 71 2000 90 66 72 2001 74 60 61 2002 66 56 62 2003 93 85 * Lifetime Average 76.2 69.6 66.5
Edwards was more conservative than — percent of Senate on these issues: Economic Social Foreign 1999 41 12 24 2000 7 21 15 2001 23 36 27 2002 32 38 36 2003 0 0 * Lifetime Average 20.6 21.4 25.5
Composite Composite Liberal Conservative Score Score 1999 72.2 94.2 2000 80.8 93.5 2001 68.2 97.7 2002 63.0 95.5 2003 94.5 96.5 Lifetime 75.7 Average * Indicates that the senator missed more than half the votes in this issue category and therefore did not receive a score. The Leaders The congressional Republican leaders, by and large, are ideological purists who rank among the most-conservative members of their respective chambers, according to National Journal’s 2003 vote ratings. The congressional Democratic leaders, by contrast, generally fall more toward the center of their party.
Republican Leaders Composite Conservative Score 2002 2003 Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. 87.0 86.5* Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. 88.7 86.5* Senate Republican Conference Chairman 80.2 86.5* Rick Santorum, R-Pa. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. no scores 95.8** House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas 88.2 93.7 House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo. 91.8 90.3 House Republican Conference Chairwoman 66.8 68.5 Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio
Democratic Leaders Composite Liberal Score 2002 2003 Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. 69.0 79.8 Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid, D-Nev. 75.5 77.5 House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif 89.3 85.7 House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md. 75.0 69.2 House Democratic Caucus Chairman 73.0 71.8 Robert Menendez, D-N.J.
* Frist, McConnell, and Santorum were among the senators tied as the most conservative in 2003. ** Hastert was the most conservative House member in 2003. Although the House speaker traditionally does not usually vote, Hastert voted frequently enough in 2003 to receive scores.
The Fringes These are the most-conservative and most-liberal members of each chamber, based on composite scores in National Journal’s 2003 vote ratings.
SENATE Most Conservative Composite Conservative Score George Allen, R-Va. 86.5 Jim Bunning, R-Ky. 86.5 Conrad Burns, R-Mont. 86.5 Thad Cochran, R-Miss. 86.5 John Cornyn, R-Texas 86.5 Bill Frist, R-Tenn. 86.5 Charles Grassley, R-Iowa 86.5 Orrin Hatch, R-Utah 86.5 Richard Lugar, R-Ind. 86.5 Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. 86.5 Rick Santorum, R-Pa. 86.5 Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. 86.5 Craig Thomas, R-Wyo. 86.5 Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. 82.7 Don Nickles, R-Okla. 82.7
Most Liberal Composite Liberal Score John Kerry, D-Mass. 96.5 Jack Reed, D-R.I. 94.7 Paul Sarbanes, D-Md. 94.7 John Edwards, D-N.C. 94.5 Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. 91.2 Russell Feingold, D-Wis. 89.5 Tom Harkin, D-Iowa 89.3 Hillary Rodham Clinton, 88.8 D-N.Y. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. 88.8 Carl Levin, D-Mich. 88.8 Mark Dayton, D-Minn. 88.3 Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. 88.3 Richard Durbin, D-Ill. 87.0 Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. 86.0 Jon Corzine, D-N.J. 84.2
HOUSE Most Conservative Composite Conservative Score Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. 95.8 Spencer Bachus, R-Ala. 93.7 Tom DeLay, R-Texas 93.7 John Linder, R-Ga. 93.7 Ed Schrock, R-Va. 93.7 Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan. 93.7 Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. 93.2 Phil Gingrey, R-Ga. 93.2 Sam Johnson, R-Texas 93.2 Chris Cannon, R-Utah 92.5 Mac Thornberry, R-Texas 92.5 Ric Keller, R-Fla. 91.8 Rob Bishop, R-Utah 91.2 Chris Chocola, R-Ind. 91.0 Henry Hyde, R-Ill. 91.0 Mark Kennedy, R-Minn. 91.0 Pete Sessions, R-Texas 91.0 Lamar Smith, R-Texas 91.0 Roy Blunt, R-Mo. 90.3 Eric Cantor, R-Va. 90.3 Gary Miller, R-Calif. 90.3 Sue Myrick, R-N.C. 90.3 John Carter, R-Texas 89.7 Nathan Deal, R-Ga. 89.0 John Sullivan, R-Okla. 89.0
Most Liberal Composite Liberal Score Bob Filner, D-Calif. 96.3 John Lewis, D-Ga. 96.3 George Miller, D-Calif. 96.3 Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. 96.3 John Olver, D-Mass. 96.3 Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. 96.3 Hilda Solis, D-Calif. 96.3 Maxine Waters, D-Calif. 96.3 Barney Frank, D-Mass. 94.7 Edward Markey, D-Mass. 94.7 Linda Sanchez, D-Calif. 94.2 Melvin Watt, D-N.C. 94.2 Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill. 94.0 Bill Delahunt, D-Mass. 93.8 Mike Honda, D-Calif. 93.5 Lucille Roybal-Allard, 93.5 D-Calif. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz. 92.8 Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y. 92.8 Donald Payne, D-N.J. 92.7 Bobby Scott, D-Va. 92.7 Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif. 92.5 John Conyers, D-Mich. 92.3 Henry Waxman, D-Calif. 92.3 Sam Farr, D-Calif. 92.2 The Centrists These are the members of the ideological center of the Senate and the House, based on composite scores in national Journal’s 2003 vote ratings.
SENATE CENTRISTS Composite Score Liberal/Conservative Richard Shelby, R-Ala. 32.7/67.3 Ted Stevens, R-Alaska 33.7/66.3 Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. 34.3/65.7 Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill. 35.2/64.8 Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-TX 35.3/64.7 John McCain, R-Ariz. 37.8/62.2 Gordon Smith, R-Ore. 39.3/60.7 John Sununu, R-N.H. 40.0/60.0 Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska 44.5/55.5 Ben Nighthorse Campbell, 46.8/53.2 R-Colo. Arlen Specter, R-Pa. 49.7/50.3 (The center of the Senate) Ben Nelson, D-Neb. 50.5/49.5 Olympia Snowe, R-Maine 50.5/49.5 Susan Collins, R-Maine 50.8/49.2 Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I. 53.3/46.7 John Breaux, D-La. 55.2/44.8 Evan Bayh, D-Ind. 58.5/41.5 Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark. 58.7/41.3 Thomas Carper, D-Del. 58.8/41.2 Mark Pryor, D-Ark. 60.2/39.8 Kent Conrad, D-N.D. 60.5/39.5
HOUSE CENTRISTS Composite Score Liberal/Conservative Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.43.5/56.5 Tom Petri, R-Wis. 44.0/56.0 Fred Upton, R-Mich. 44.0/56.0 Jim Greenwood, R-Pa. 44.2/55.8 John Hostettler, R-Ind. 44.2/55.8 Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. 44.5/55.5 Charles Bass, R-N.H. 44.8/55.2 Chris Smith, R-N.J. 44.8/55.2 Vernon Ehlers, R-Mich. 45.2/54.8 Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio 45.3/54.7 Jerry Moran, R-Kan. 45.3/54.7 Jack Quinn, R-N.Y. 45.7/54.3 Doug Ose, R-Calif. 45.8/54.2 Douglas Bereuter, R-Neb. 46.3/53.7 John McHugh, R-N.Y. 46.5/53.5 Ralph Hall, D-Texas* 46.8/53.2 Sue Kelly, R-N.Y. 47.2/52.8 Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J. 47.7/52.3 Wayne Gilchrest, R-Md. 48.2/51.8 Jim Ramstad, R-Minn. 49.5/50.5 Mark Kirk, R-Ill. 49.7/50.3 (The center of the House) Ken Lucas, D-Ky. 50.5/49.5 Tim Johnson, R-Ill. 50.8/49.2 Amo Houghton, R-N.Y. 51.0/49.0 Nancy Johnson, R-Conn. 51.2/48.8 Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y. 51.5/48.5 Gene Taylor, D-Miss. 52.3/47.7 Bud Cramer, D-Ala. 52.5/47.5 Chris John, D-La. 52.5/47.5 Rob Simmons, R-Conn. 52.5/47.5 Michael Castle, R-Del. 53.0/47.0 Collin Peterson, D-Minn. 53.2/46.8 Charles Stenholm, D-Texas 53.2/46.8 Ike Skelton, D-Mo. 53.5/46.5 Rodney Alexander, D-La. 53.8/46.2 Christopher Shays, R-Conn. 53.8/46.2 Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn. 54.2/45.8 William Lipinski, D-Ill. 54.3/45.7 John Murtha, D-Pa. 55.0/45.0 Jim Marshall, D-Ga. 55.2/44.8 Mike McIntyre, D-N.C. 55.7/44.3 *Hall switched to the Republican Party in January 2004. Senate Twins and Odd Couples Senators from the same state can demonstrate remarkably similar voting patterns, but sometimes they widely diverge, as shown by the composite scores in National Journal’s 2003 vote ratings.
Composite Composite Liberal Conservative Score Score Home-State Twins of the Same Farty (scores within 2 points of each other) Ark. Blanche Lincoln, D 58.7 41.3 Ark. Mark Pryor, D 60.2 39.8 Idaho Larry Craig, R 24.0 76.0 Idaho Mike Crapo, R 24.0 76.0 Kan. Sam Brownback, R 27.8 72.2 Kan. Pat Roberts, R 26.0 74.0 Ky. Mitch McConnell, R 13.5 86.5 Ky. Jim Bunning, R 13.5 86.5 Maine Olympia Snowe, R 50.5 49.5 Maine Susan Collins, R 50.8 49.2 Ohio Mike DeWine, R 28.7 71.3 Ohio George Voinovich, R 29.8 70.2 S.D. Tom Daschle, D 79.8 20.2 S.D. Tim Johnson, D 81.2 18.8 Wash. Patty Murray, D 78.5 21.5 Wash. Maria Cantwell, D 77.0 23.0
Home-State Twins of Different Parties (scores within 2 points of each other) Ga. Zell Miller, D 27.5 72.5 Ga. Saxby Chambliss, R 25.5 74.5
Home-State Odd Couples of the Same Party (scores 20 points or more apart) Calif. Dianne Feinstein, D 68.0 32.0 Calif. Barbara Boxer, D 91.2 8.8 Pa. Arlen Specter, R 49.7 50.3 Pa. Rick Santorum, R 13.5 86.5 Texas Kay Bailey 35.3 64.7 Hutchison, R Texas John Cornyn, R 13.5 86.5
Home-State Odd Couples of Different Parties (scores 50 points or more apart) Ill. Richard Durbin, D 87.0 13.0 Ill. Peter Fitzgerald, R 35.2 64.8 Iowa Charles Grassley, R 13.5 86.5 Iowa Tom Harkin, D 89.3 10.7 Minn. Mark Dayton, D 88.3 11.7 Minn. Norm Coleman, R 24.2 75.8 Mont. Max Baucus, D 69.8 30.2 Mont. Conrad Burns, R 13.5 86.5 N.M. Pete Domenici, R 19.8 80.2 N.M. Jeff Bingaman, D 69.8 30.2 N.C. John Edwards, D 94.5 5.5 N.C. Elizabeth Dole, R 28.2 71.8
Senators on the Hot Seats in November Sometimes senators “run toward the middle” by moderating their views near the end of their six-year term in a bid to appeal to swing voters as a tough election approaches. But, according to National Journal’s 2003 vote ratings, the 10 senators who potentially face competitive election contests this year instead mostly moved toward the fringes of their party.
Composite Conservative Score Change From 2002 2003 2002-2003 Christopher (Kit) Bond, 76.8 81.0 +4.2 R-Mo. Jim Bunning, R-Ky. 77.2 86.5 +9.3 Lisa Murkowski, R-AK * 55.5 * Arlen Specter, R-Pa. 51.5 50.3 -1.2
1998 Election 2000 Election Senator’s Vote Bush Vote Percentage Percentage Bond 53% 50% Bunning 50 57 Murkowski * 59 Specter 61 46
Composite Liberal Score Change From 2002 2003 2002-2003 Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. 93.2 91.2 -2.0 Tom Daschle, D-S.D. 69.0 79.8 +10.8 Russell Feingold, D-Wis. 84.7 89.5 +4.8 Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark. 53.3 58.7 +5.4 Patty Murray, D-Wash. 74.8 78.5 +3.7 Harry Reid, D-Nev. 75.5 77.5 +2.0
1998 Election 2000 Election Senator’s Vote Bush Vote Percentage Percentage Boxer 53% 42% Daschle 62 60 Feingold 51 48 Lincoln 55 51 Murray 58 45 Reid 48 50 * Murkowski was appointed to her seat in December 2002. State Delegations in the House This map shows the most-liberal to most-conservative state delegations in the House, based on average composite liberal scores in National Journal’s 2003 vote ratings.
Average Composite Liberal Scores for State Delegations in the House
Most-Liberal State Delegations Massachusetts 89 Vermont 84 Rhode Island 78 Maine 76 Hawaii 75 Oregon 69 New York 68 Maryland 67 Connecticut 65 California 61
Centrist State Delegations New Jersey 59 Wisconsin 59 North Dakota 57 Washington 57 West Virginia 56 Illinois 54 Delaware 53 Arkansas 52 Minnesota 51 New Mexico 49 Michigan 48 North Carolina 47 Mississippi 46 Ohio 46 Pennsylvania 46 Tennessee 46 Missouri 44 Texas 44 Colorado 43 Arizona 42 New Hampshire 42 Indiana 41
Most-Conservative State Delegations Iowa 39 South Carolina 39 Virginia 39 Florida 38 Nevada 38 Georgia 36 Nebraska 36 Idaho 35 Louisiana 35 Kansas 33 Kentucky 30 Alabama 27 Oklahoma 25 Utah 25 Alaska 23 Montana 23 South Dakota 21 Wyoming 14
Hillary Clinton When she first joined the Senate in 2001, Sen. Hillary Rodham Cinton, D-N.Y., lay low, paid deference to senior members, and — to the surprise of some observers — voted in the midrange of her party ideologically. More recently, however, Clinton has emerged as a celebrity spokeswoman and prolific fundraiser for the Democrats. And, although she has taken hawkish views on the Iraq war and national defense, she apparently is comfortable voting more liberal, as shown by National Journal’s 2003 vote ratings.
Clinton’s Composite Liberal Scores 2001 76.3 24 senators (all Democrats) were more liberal 2002 86.7 11 senators (all Democrats) were more liberal 2003 88.8 7 senators (all Democrats) were more liberal Zell Miller During his term in the Senate, Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga., has consistently ranked as the chamber’s most conservative Democrat in National Journal’s annual vote ratings. He has sided with Senate Republicans on one high-profile issue after another. In fact, in 2003, 22 GOP senators were more liberal than Miller was. But Miller — who was elected in 2000 to fill the seat of the late Sen. Paul Coverdell, R-Ga., and is retiring this year — has refused to switch parties.
Miller’s Composite Liberal Scores 2001 40.3 6 Republican senators were more liberal 2002 37.3 7 Republican senators were more liberal 2003 27.5 22 Republican senators were more liberal A Texas Twosome In 2003, the most conservative Democrat in the House was Rep. Ralph Hall, D-Texas. (On January 2, 2004, Hall switched parties and filed for re-election as a Republican.) Meanwhile, the scores of Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, ranked him as the most liberal Republican in the House in 2003. (He ran as the Libertarian candidate for president in 1988.)
Composite Composite Liberal Score Conservative Score Ralph Hall, D-Texas 46.8 53.2 Ron Paul, R-Texas 60.0 40.0 All in the Family Congress has five sets of close family members. Among the siblings, the older family member is the more moderate of the two, based on the composite scores in National Journal’s 2003 vote ratings.
First Comp. Comp. Elected Lib. Cons. to Score Score Age Congress SIBLINGS Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-FL 49 1992 26.7 73.3 Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-FL 42 2002 12.2 87.8 Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich. 72 1982 75.8 24.2 Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. 69 1978 88.8 11.2 Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif. 44 1996 75.5 24.5 Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif. 35 2002 94.2 5.8 FATHER-SON Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. 72 1962 88.3 11.7 Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I. 36 1994 79.7 20.3 COUSINS Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M. 55 1998 91.5 8.5 Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo. 53 1998 80.8 19.2 National Journal