01 March 2010

On the Fringes of Their Herds

National Journal has released its 29th annual ratings of congressional votes, a measure that ranks senators and representatives "on a conservative-to-liberal scale."

The composite scores place West Virginia's delegation, for the most part, toward the edges of their respective caucuses:

  • Rep. Alan Mollohan, WV-01, is the 65th most-conservative of 261 House Democrats, and the 187th most-liberal.
  • Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, WV-02, is the 21st most-liberal of 178 House Republicans, and the 155th most-conservative.
  • Rep. Nick Rahall, WV-03, is the 63rd most-conservative House Democrat, and its 191st most-liberal.
  • Sen. Robert C. Byrd is the 11th most-conservative of the 62 Senate Democrats scored, and the 46th most liberal.
  • Sen. Jay Rockefeller is the 31st most-conservative and 26th most-liberal Senate Democrat.
Note that the ratings drew from votes cast in 2009, and so included several now-former/deceased members of Congress.

Besides printable charts, the magazine arrays the ratings via custom-sorted lists, a map of the states and a grid of photos resembling an utterly complicated edition of Hollywood Squares.

The accompanying article said that this year's analysis "found telling consistency in the long-standing ideological divides that define legislative battles on Capitol Hill. Some of those gulfs even deepened as the decades-long partisan sorting of liberals and conservatives into opposing camps continued apace last year."

The magazine explains that it relied on "99 key votes in the Senate and 92 key votes in the House" reflecting "key economic, social, and foreign-policy issues" as selected by a panel of National Journal editors and reporters.

The votes were then plugged into a "statistical analysis designed by Bill Schneider, a political analyst and commentator, and a contributing editor to this magazine," National Journal said. "The computer-assisted calculations rank members in each chamber along the ideological spectrum."

No comments: