Where is the center?

Promoted by Jason: How does your member rank?

As a political scientist, one of the things that bothers me most is trying to look at a set of data concerning Congressional votes and figure out if I’m looking at ideological data or partisan data.  It makes a difference.  Is someone a conservative or are they just a republican?  Are you represented by someone who is ideologically liberal or just someone who is a good democrat?

The problem is that the two overlap to a very large degree.  But one thing is easy – determining who is in the “mainstream” and who isn’t.  Prepare for a surprise and a yawn.

Voteview begins by looking at all roll call votes and discarding those where the losing side holds less than 5% of the votes cast (so it screens out the not-quite-unanimous-consent votes). Then they rank every member of Congress, from most liberal to the least.  Who do you think is the most liberal member of the New Jersey Congressional delegation?

It’s Donald Payne.  In fact, he ranks eighth overall, just behind Dennis Kucinich, Keith Ellison, and Lynn Woolsey (who co-chairs the Progressive Caucus).  

Number two is Rush Holt.  He’s ranked 71.5, a position he shares with nine other Members, including Charlie Rangel and Henry Waxman.

Tied at 104 are Rob Andrews, Steve Rothman, and Frank Pallone.  Six others share that position, as well, including Chris Van Hollen and David Obey.

In the next position, which is 117.5 is Bill Pascrell, Albio Sires, and seventeen others.  This is where Bart Stupak lives.  

John Adler holds position 229 all by himself.  In case you’re bad with math, dead center would be the 217/218 spots.  It’s also thirty spots up from the lowest ranking Democrat (Walt Minnick of Idaho).

Next are Frank LoBiondo and Chris Smith, at 262 and 263, respectively.  The only Republican that ranks above them is Joseph Cao of Lousianna.

Leonard Lance is next at 280.  Then Rodney Frelinghuysen at 285.  

The yawner is Scott Garrett.  Ernie da Wrench is hanging hard at 428 – of 435.  The only people more extreme than Wrenchie are from Texas, Georgia, Iowa, and Arizona.  

So the average ranking for a Congressman from NJ would be 182.5.  If you throw out the outliers, Payne and Garrett, you end up with an average rank of 176.  

Okay, discuss among yourselves.

Comments (3)

  1. Rosi Efthim

    Goes in the “save this!” file for research.  

  2. TScheisskopf

    Never attribute to extremism what can be explained by the phrase “dumber than a ditch carp”.


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