Rating the Members
The description of the methodology sounds impressive, but the ultimate decision about what’s liberal and what’s conservative still came down to a subjective judgment on the part of the magazine’s editors: “The yea and nay positions on each roll call were then identified as conservative or liberal.” Perhaps that’s the way it should be or simply must be; politics is, after all, a subjective art, not an objective science. Still, I’d love to see the criteria they used to define conservative and liberal, though for the life of me, I can’t find them. (If others do, please share accordingly in the comments section.)
Regardless, the exercise is a fascinating one, and it certainly appears to be more robust than other such ratings, based as it is on a composite voting record: “A panel of National Journal editors and reporters initially compiled a list of 187 key congressional roll-call votes for 2006 — 84 votes for the Senate and 103 for the House — and classified them as relating to economic, social, or foreign policy.”
Possibly of greatest interest to those whose political orientations are left-of-, right-of-, and dead-on-center, is the Journal‘s assessment of the Congressional centrists — an analysis that (among many other things) confirms what has been written before: Notable Republicans with liberal orientations (e.g., Chafee in the Senate and Leach in the House) were booted out in the mid-terms, further skewing the GOP’s rightward tilt.
Beyond that, there’s much more here, in the main article and sidebars, to both confirm and challenge our individual perspectives on Members of Congress, including (especially) those Members who are vying for the White House in ’08. Enjoy the material, and as always, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and observations.