Ideological Rationalization of the Senate

American Thinker

Jan. 15, 2010

Blanche Lincoln is in deep trouble. Harry Reid is, too. Byron Dorgan, facing deep reelection problems, has simply given up his Senate seat. Ben Nelson may well do that in the 2012 election cycle. Mary Landrieu is feeling some heat. All of these senators well ought to be in trouble. Others like Pryor in Arkansas, Tester in Montana, and Conrad in North Dakota should be in big trouble, too, in coming elections.
These Democrat senators simply do not at all represent what the voters of their states believe or want. Some of the ones from red states are called “moderate.” Are they, though? Blanche Lincoln is out of step with Arkansans not only on health care — she is out of step with Arkansans, period.  Her lifetime voting record with the American Conservative Union is a paltry 18%. “Moderate” Mary Landrieu has a 23% lifetime voting record with the ACU. The only real moderate Democrat in the Senate is Ben Nelson, whose lifetime rating is 47% with the ACU, and yet he notoriously could be bought by Big Leftism.
Here are some Democrat senators from states which traditionally go Republican in national elections. None of them have a lifetime rating by the American Conservative Union higher than 23%: Baucus (MT), Bayh (IN), Begich (AK), Bennet (CO), Bingaman (NM), Conrad (ND), Dorgan (ND), Hagan (NC), Johnson (SD), Landrieu (LA), Lincoln (AR), McCaskill (MO), Pryor (AR), Reid (NV), Rockefeller (WV), Salazar (CO), Tester (MT), Udall (CO), Udall (NM), Webb (VA), and Warner (VA.) Aside from Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson of Florida and Robert Byrd of West Virginia were marginally less liberal, but none of these 24 Democrat senators from red states have a voting record as conservative as Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins, the two most RINO of RINO Republicans.
These Democrat senators are wildly out of sync with the ideological rhythms of their respective states. Gallup conducted a state-by-state poll last summer that broke down the ideology of the voters. In Arkansas, a state that has two Democrat senators with ACU rankings of 18% (Lincoln) and 18% (Pryor), the people identified themselves as 43% conservative, 37% moderate, and only 16% liberal. North Dakota is a state with two Democrat senators, Dorgan (22%) and Conrad (22%), where 45% of the people define themselves as conservative, 37% moderate, and only 17% liberal. Montana also has two Democrats: Baucus with a 14% ACU rating and Tester with 16%. What is the ideological breakdown of Montana? Gallup says 41% conservative, 35% moderate, and only 21% liberal.
Not only did John McCain carry Arkansas, North Dakota, and Montana, but so did Bush in 2004 and 2000. Since 1968, only a few times has the Democrat nominee carried any of those three states in a presidential election. These states represent a number which have “moderate” (really, fairly liberal) senators despite the fact that the people (among whom conservatives strongly outnumber liberals) vote Republican in presidential elections. Among these states with Democrats now helping Obama, the advantage of self-defined conservatives over liberals in each case is very large.
How large, exactly? The following states have Democrat senators, and in each state, the percentage of conservatives is greater than that of liberals by at least 20 percentage points (+33 means that if 47% of the state’s voters call themselves conservative, only 14% of the state’s voters call themselves liberal). Here they are: Louisiana + 33%, North Dakota + 28%, Arkansas + 27%, South Dakota +26%, Iowa +23%, Delaware +22%,  West Virginia +21%, North Carolina +21%, Indiana +21%, New Mexico +21%, Montana +20%, Nebraska +20%, Alaska +20%, Ohio +20%. How many Democrat senators come from these overwhelmingly conservative states? Twenty. If the Democrat senators from these states were Republicans, then the GOP would have a filibuster-proof majority.
Now consider those states in which conservatives outnumber liberals by at least 15 percentage points: Florida +19%, Missouri +19%, Pennsylvania +18%, Wisconsin +17%, Virginia +17%, Colorado +16%, Nevada +16%, and Michigan +15%. Out of the eighteen senators in these nine states, only three are Republicans. If Republicans held only half of those Senate seats, then there would be an additional seven of them in the Senate.
How many Republicans come from liberal states? None, really. The Gallup Poll showed that in every single state of the union, conservatives outnumber Democrats. More to the point, though, in the eleven least conservative states — Massachusetts, Vermont, Hawaii, Oregon, New York, New Jersey, California, Washington, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maryland — there are no Republican senators at all. How many Democrat senators hail from the eleven most conservative states? Five, including four with very liberal voting records.

Conservatives constitute the huge majority of America according to the Battleground Poll, and yet conservatives are a weak minority in the Senate. Liberal Democrats hold Senate seats which, if ideology counted, should be conservative Republican seats. The radicalism of Obama and the sheep of Harry Reid is causing the ideological rationalization of the Senate. Lincoln, Reid and Dorgan may just be the tip of the iceberg

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