Republicans Run From Partisan Voting
Fresh off winning election to the Senate in the fall of 2002, Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) entered the chamber as a staunch conservative, voting with a majority of his GOP colleagues nearly 94 percent of the time in the 108th Congress.
In 2005 and 2006, Coleman sided with a majority of Republicans on less than 85 percent of the votes he cast in the 109th Congress. Now, facing re-election in 2008 in a state that's grown increasingly hostile to Republicans, Coleman is voting with his GOP colleagues just 79 percent of the time so far this year.
Coleman's not alone. Across the board, Republicans have shed their partisan natures while Democrats have grown more sure ideologically in the first five months of the 110th Congress. The average GOP senator voted with a majority of Republicans on nearly 92 percent of roll calls in the 108th -- while Democrats stood at less than 85 percent. And so far this year the average Senate Republican has voted with his or her majority just 83 percent of the time. (Democrats are now voting together 90 percent of the time.)
These are the findings in a new database feature created by washingtonpost.com's Derek Willis and Adrian Holovaty, who have built an online analysis of how often members of Congress vote with a majority of their colleagues. This is about as fair a guidepost as there is for measuring the partisan nature of a member of Congress. [It will not surprise many Republicans to learn that the most partisan senator so far this year is Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), voting almost 99 percent of the time with the Democratic majority.]
No one has seen their partisan leanings fall more in the past five years than Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), who first won election in 1996 and has so far dodged any tough challengers for the fall of 2008. Smith was with a majority of Republicans on more than 94 percent of his votes in the 108th Congress, but is now down to just 73 percent of his votes siding with most Republicans.
"Different congresses present different votes," said R.C. Hammond, Smith's spokesman, explaining the drop.
Other Republicans argued that in 2003 there were a huge number of votes on judicial nominations, tax cuts and the Iraq war. They noted the overall trend of Republicans becoming more independent, adding that with Democrats in charge there are more votes on things that they always supported but never had a chance to vote on, such as the minimum wage. "The senator's had these positions for a long time," Hammond said.
With Democrats firmly in charge, there have been few votes on President Bush's judicial nominees and no big tax votes. Smith, for example, has dropped his support for the war and is voting with Democrats on almost every vote related to Iraq.
And, a similar shift in the opposite direction is noticeable among Democrats, even centrist Democrats. Take Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the Finance Committee chairman long distrusted by the left. Baucus, voting with a majority of his Democratic colleagues barely 82 percent of the time the previous four years, is currently siding with them almost 92 percent of the time.
Here's a breakdown of selected senators and their "with party" voting percentages in the 108th, 109th and 110th Congresses. The list includes senators who are up for re-election for the first tim in 2008, along with a few veteran incumbents considered to be in potentially tough races. They're ranked from those have seen the sharpest drop in partisan voting to those at the bottom who've grown the most partisan.
|Gordon Smith (R-Ore)||94.2||87.1||73.2|
|Norm Coleman (R-Minn.)||93.9||84.8||79.2|
|Susan Collins (R-Maine)||83.9||74.7||74|
|Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)||96.5||92.7||88.2|
|Tim Johnson (D-S.D.)||94||87.9||N/A|
|John Sununu (R-N.H.)||91.2||84.1||86|
|Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.)||95.5||92.9||91.7|
|John Cornyn (R-Texas)||96.5||92.5||93.4|
|Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia)||97.3||93.2||94.4|
|Mary Landrieu (D-La.)||85.3||82.5||87.6|
|Mark Pryor (D-Ark.)||88.6||85.7||92.3|
|Max Baucus (D-Mont.)||82.1||82.5||91.7|
Posted by: Andrew | May 31, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: JBE | May 31, 2007 6:05 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Anonymous | May 31, 2007 6:26 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mikeasr | May 31, 2007 6:36 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MikeB | May 31, 2007 6:37 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Marcy R. | May 31, 2007 6:58 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Kase | May 31, 2007 7:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: George Albert | May 31, 2007 7:15 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: 1-20-09 | May 31, 2007 7:18 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MikeB | May 31, 2007 7:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ellec | May 31, 2007 7:59 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Gardenia | May 31, 2007 8:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Brent | May 31, 2007 9:35 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: visitor | May 31, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: tim | May 31, 2007 9:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: stevel | May 31, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Patrick Huss | June 1, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: rlbowolick | June 1, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: hdrider | June 1, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: thebob.bob | June 1, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: JC | June 1, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: anon reader | June 1, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Bokonon | June 1, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: shuston | June 3, 2007 1:46 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.