Assume the Position

Sunday, May 09, 2004
An Important Thing to Remember About Kerry

John Kerry is the junior Senator from Massachusetts. Think about that for a minute…

John Kerry was sent to the Senate in 1984 and then thrice re-elected by the same people who have been sending Ted Kennedy to the Senate since 1962. Kerry is Kennedy-lite only when it comes to bathroom scales and bar tabs.

Most everybody who was paying attention knows that the National Journal's ratings system showed "Kerry was the most liberal Senator in 2003."

Judging by National Journal's congressional vote ratings, however, Kerry and Edwards aren't all that different, at least not when it comes to how they voted on key issues before the Senate last year. The results of the vote ratings show that Kerry was the most liberal senator in 2003, with a composite liberal score of 96.5. But Edwards wasn't far behind: He had a 2003 composite liberal score of 94.5, making him the fourth-most-liberal senator.
(Aside from that article and a few others, the National Journal, and access to its congressional ratings, requires a subscription. You can get their 2001-2003 ratings from Project Vote Smart, as well as Kerry's ratings by numerous groups.)

Americans for Democratic Action, which bills itself as "America's oldest independent liberal lobbying organization," also compiles ratings of congressional voting records:

Since ADA's founding in 1947, the Annual Voting Records have served as the standard measure of political liberalism. Combining 20 key votes on a wide range of social and economic issues, both domestic and international, the Liberal [Quotient] (LQ) provides a basic overall picture of an elected official's political position.

Each year, ADA's Legislative Committee selects 20 votes it considers the most important during that session. ADA's National Board and/or National Executive Committee approves those votes. Each member recieves [sic] 5 points if he/she voted with ADA, and does not receive 5 points if he/she voted against us or was absent. The total possible is 100.

Elsewhere, they explain their "Liberal Quotient:" "A Liberal Quotient (LQ) of 100% (a "Hero") represents total support of ADA's positions on the year's selected votes, while 0% (a "Zero") represents no support. Those Members of Congress considered to be Moderates generally score between 40% and 60%."

The following table shows the ADA's LQ for Representatives and Senators from Massachusetts for the past eight years. Because the ADA counts absences the same as votes against the liberal position, I've recomputed the LQ by dropping non-votes and placed that in parentheses after the ADA's rating. (For example, in 1998, Moakley's votes were 13 for the ADA's liberal position, 1 against, and 6 absences or not-voting. The ADA gives him a LQ of 13/20=65%, I give him a LQ of 13/14=92.86 rounded to 93%.) Additionally, I used the annual ADA voting records, and for some reason (sloppiness on the ADA's or my part?), these results do not exactly match the ADA's own calculated "Lifetime Voting Record" tables for Massachusetts Representatives and Senators.

Blute F. (R)45 
Torkildsen P. (R)55 
Studds G. (D)90(95) 
Delahunt B. (D) 951001008595(100)90(95)95
McGovern J. (D) 10010010010090100100
Tierney J. (D) 10010010095100100100
Kennedy J. (D)9510095 
Capuano M. (D) 1001009595(100)100
Moakley J. (D)65(87)8565(93)9080(84)?(100) 
Lynch S. (D) ?(100)9085
Frank B. (D)10010010010095100100100
Markey E. (D)95(100)10090(100)10085(100)100100100
Meehan M. (D)85(89)901001009090(95)75(100)100
Neal R. (D)75(85)90959580859095
Olver J. (D)9510095959010095100
Kennedy E. (D)90(95)1009595(100)9010010095
Kerry J. (D)95959595(100)9095(100)8585(100)

The majority of Massachusetts voters are liberal, and that's what they usually send to Washington. There was an exception during the Gingrich revolution; two Massachusetts districts actually sent Republicans to Congress—they lasted one term. Kerry, however, is not an execption.

Think about the people who keep sending Ted Kennedy, Barny Frank, Edward Markey, and the others back to Congress, election after election. Regardless of what Kerry, his campaign, the DNC, and his supporters in the media now say, the voters of Massachusetts told you something very important about Kerry in 1984, 1990, 1996 and 2002. You need to remember it in November.

Original content copyright © 2002-2005 Lynxx Pherrett. All rights reserved.