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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

 
A surprising statistic

by digby

I did not know this:

As it turns out, with a first-dimension score of -0.391 based upon her entire service in Congress, Hillary Clinton was the 11th most liberal member of the Senate in each of the 107th, 108th, 109th, and 110th Congresses. That places her slightly to the left of Pat Leahy (-0.386), Barbara Mikulski (-0.385) and Dick Durbin (-0.385); clearly to the left of Joe Biden (-0.331) and Harry Reid (-0.289); and well to the left of moderate Democrats like Jon Tester (-0.230), Blanche Lincoln (-0.173), and Claire McCaskill (-0.154).

Some more numbers from the 110th Congress, to further help put things in perspective:


Most liberal Dem
1 Sanders -0.523
11 CLINTON -0.391
Median Dem 33 Biden -0.331
Most conservative Dem 51 B. Nelson -0.035
Most liberal Rep 52 Specter 0.061
Median Rep 76 McConnell 0.409
Most conservative Rep 101 Coburn 0.809

Oh, and a certain junior Senator from Illinois, Obama I think his name was? At -0.367, he ranked 23rd in the 110th Congress.

Comparing votes is hardly a perfect way to measure ideology, but it is by far the best method available to bring a measure of quantitative rigor to this inherently subjective topic, and political scientists and statisticians have long relied on DW-NOMINATE for insights about politics and voting behavior. (Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight.com make extensive use of it to power their own results, for example.)

That's from this post, which discusses at some length how this scoring is done. I don't know that any of it means much --- the Democratic Party doesn't start off very liberal after all --- but perhaps it's instructive as a starting point.

.