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Liberal/conservative rankings

I'll be watching the debate tonight with my daughter, so it's not an occasion for drinking games, but if it were, a good one would be to drink whenever Bush mentions that the National Journal ranked Kerry the most liberal Senator.

This reminded me that for many months I've intended to call attention to a fabulous database that attempts to develop a more iterative and open way of ranking the voting records of members of Congress: http://progressivepunch.org/. Rather than choosing votes, this system takes any vote on which a majority of "hard-core progressives" votes in one way, and ranks them and others in relation to the positions of that hard core. There's a bit of arbitrariness in the choice of the hard-core, but it still takes a little of the human judgment out of the equation. And, more interestingly, one could open up the system and rank members based on, say, all the Senators from the Northeast, or some other choice.

In any event, Kerry's ratings under this system are very interesting (This probably won't paste in neatly, so click here , scroll down to number 24, and click to see Kerry's rank on a dozen different issues. Only on Housing does he rank near the most liberal, and on issues of war and peace and justice, he is near the middle of the Senate:

ALL ISSUE CATEGORIES Rank Kerry, John (Sen - D) Progressive Score (%) Rank

All issues 85.72 24/100

Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad (15 subcategories) 71.25 45/100

Corporate Subsidies (12 subcategories) 71.43 17/100T

Education, Humanities, & the Arts (2 subcategories) 72.73 46/100

Environment (12 subcategories) 82.00 19/100

Fair Taxation (6 subcategories) 93.33 25/100T

Family Planning (2 subcategories) 28.57 53/100

Government Checks on Corporate Power (21 subcategories) 76.00 36/100

Health Care (12 subcategories) 52.00 46/100

Housing (2 subcategories) 100.00 1/89T

Human Rights & Civil Liberties (6 subcategories) 56.52 46/100

Justice for All: Civil and Criminal (7 subcategories) 55.00 45/100

Labor Rights (6 subcategories) 60.47 38/100

Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful (10 subcategories) 67.65 46/100

War & Peace (14 subcategories) 40.91 46/100T

Posted by Mark Schmitt on October 13, 2004 | Permalink


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Dr. Keith Poole of the University of Houston has a new post up where he ranks 3,320 senators and house members on a left to right scale. (Appaarently there have been that many congressman since 1937 or so.)

I had never heard of the most liberal, who was from Vermont. Ron Paul of Texas was the furthest right, and Larry McDonald, who I'm pretty sure was in the Korean airliner that was shot down by the Soviet Union, was "next to rightest", and he was a Democrat.

Anyway, as a casual observer, I always figured that Poole is on the right track. Take every vote, and rank it. Then see the results. Kerry was 478 out of 3,320 on the left to right scale.

Posted by: Peter | Oct 16, 2004 8:25:16 PM