The candidates are skirmishing about whether the people in rural Pennsylvania are depressed
about having their jobs shipped overseas. Maybe they could stop bickering long enough to suggest
what they would do about the problem? Is it too much to expect that during a
campaign the candidates would talk about their approaches to dealing with the nation's problems?
You might expect that either one could score points by saying: "If I am elected, this is what I
am going to do to help you..." But instead it looks like
is alive and well in Pennsylvania.
In the absence of any polls today or any actual political news on the presidential front, let's
go back to the discussion of the Senate started last week.
On April 9
we listed how liberal interest groups rated all the senators. Today we have ratings from
the conservative interest groups. What is most striking is how polarized the Senate has become.
With one exception, Ben Nelson (D-NE), even the least conservative Republican is more conservative
than the most conservative Democrat. It was not like this at all in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.
It is not so much that the Democrats have become more liberal as that the Republican party
has been completely purged of the likes of Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, Jacob Javits,
and many other moderate Republicans. While Democrats have rid themselves of people like Sen. James Eastland (D-MS)
and Sen. John Stennis (D-MS), there are still plenty of conservative Democrats around and not
so many liberal firebrands like Barbara Boxer (D-CA). This incredible polarization is why the Senate
has basically ceased to function. It used to be that most senators worked across the aisle.
Now if a senator has lunch with a senator from the other party he or she can count on this
as forming the basis for an attack ad come reelection time.
Also of note is that Barack Obama, with a conservative rating of 11% and Hillary Clinton, at 9%,
hardly differ at all, and neither is anywhere near being the most liberal or most conservative
Democrat. Interestingly enough, John McCain, at 73%, comes off as more moderate when rated by the
conservative groups than when rated by the liberal groups. One might have thought that since the
liberal groups clearly dislike McCain's voting record, the conservative groups would embrace it,
but that is not the case. The difference could lie in precisely which votes each group counted.
The much-maligned Joe Lieberman (I-CT), whom progressives think of as a crypto-Republican,
is slightly less conservative than their hero, Russ Feingold (D-WI).
Consider this: Of the 49 Republican senators, the one in the middle of the list, Richard Shelby (R-AL), has a conservative
rating of 83%.
The middle Democrat (counting Lieberman and Bernie Sanders as Democrats) is Ron Wyden (D-OR) at 10%.
That's a 73% gap between the median Republican and the median Democrat.
Is it any wonder than the Senate can't get anything done any more?
The problem isn't that the senators can't agree on abortion and gay marriage.
Nobody expects them to. The real problem is that this incessant ideological warfare on a few
hot-button issues has kept the Senate from doing business on many other issues where left to their
own devices, the senators could probably find common ground. After all, if
John McCain (73% conservative rating) and Teddy Kennedy (7% conservative rating)
could sit down together and write an immigration bill, a lot is possible.
ACU - American Conservative Union ATR - Americans for Tax Reform CWA - Concern Women for America Club4 - Club for Growth Eagle - Eagle Forum FRC - Family Research Council RTL - Right to Life TVC - Traditional Values Coalition
The data is available for download in
so you can slice and dice the data as you wish.
The ratings are for 2007 where available, otherwise for 2006.
Actually, only the Eagle Forum had 2007 data, so all the others are 2006.
For Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), some of his votes were made as a House member before he was
appointed to the Senate.
Here are the delegate totals from various news sources rounded to integers
(Democrats Abroad has 22 delegates, each with 1/2 vote).
The sources differ because in most caucus states, no delegates to the national conventions have
been chosen yet, just delegates to the district, county, or state convention so there is some
guesswork involved. Furthermore, some of the unpledged delegates are elected at state conventions in May or June.
Finally, the PLEOs (Party Leaders and Elected Officials) sometimes waver and may tell different reporters
slightly different stories that they interpret differently.