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August 04, 2004

KERRY THE "MOST LIBERAL SENATOR?" Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler thinks that the press is giving Republicans a free ride on this issue. He's probably right about that -- though he'd be more persuasive if he'd provide a list of senators that he thinks are to the left of Kerry.

UPDATE: A different take on the just how liberal is John Kerry question, from Stephen Bainbridge, who compares Kerry's record with Paul Wellstone's. "So if Kerry and Wellstone were so close in score, did that make Kerry a 'Wellstone liberal' or Wellstone a 'Kerry liberal'? Either way, they were both pretty far out of the mainstream."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Kastellec rises to the challenge, sending this:

I'm taking up your challenge to see how many senators are more liberal than Kerry. The following are NOMINATE ratings compiled by Professor Keith Poole (available at Link, along with a description of how they are calculated). While the method use to calculate them is complicated, they are basically measures of liberalism-conservatism based on a Congressman's entire career, not just on one Congress as the flawed National Journal ratings are. Because they incorporate all nonunaminous vote and are not biased by absention, NOMINATE scores are considered far superior to interest group ratings.

The scores range from -1 (most liberal) to 1 (most liberal). Below are ratings for all the senators of the 107th Congress (sorry for the poor formating), ranking from most liberal to most conservative. You can see that 15 Democrats are to the left of Kerry, which means that while he is by no means a conservative Democrat, he is not on the fringe of the party, and is clearly not the most liberal senator. Edwards, meannwhile, is well toward the moderate wing of the party, belying claims of his liberal extremism.

Click "more" for, er, more.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oliver Willis -- earning his pay from David Brock -- sends this link, and this one, too. Gosh, you'd think that being "liberal" was bad or something!

And I still think Oliver belongs on TV.

Kastellec's data follow. I guess Kerry can sell himself with the slogan: "Slightly more liberal than Charles Schumer and Barbara Mikulski!"

I must say that I don't find this ranking transparent, but perhaps Professor Bainbridge or someone else with expertise will weigh in.

name NOMINATE SCORE
FEINGOLD -1.01
WELLSTONE -0.887
CORZINE -0.744
DAYTON -0.685
BOXER -0.672
KENNEDY ED -0.586
REED -0.585
DURBIN -0.564
SARBANES -0.555
HARKIN -0.525
AKAKA -0.516
CLINTON -0.502
LEVIN CARL -0.498
STABENOW -0.497
LEAHY -0.48
KERRY JOHN -0.464
SCHUMER -0.457
MIKULSKI -0.448
MURRAY -0.43
WYDEN -0.415
ROCKEFELLER -0.414
DODD -0.397
CANTWELL -0.396
KOHL -0.389
DASCHLE -0.386
JEFFORDS -0.385
DORGAN -0.378
NELSON CLA -0.373
INOUYE -0.367
REID -0.362
EDWARDS -0.343
GRAHAM BOB -0.339
JOHNSON -0.338
BIDEN -0.327
BINGAMAN -0.32
CONRAD -0.319
LIEBERMAN -0.318
FEINSTEIN -0.312
TORRICELLI -0.301
CARNAHAN -0.298
BAYH -0.287
BYRD ROBER -0.264
CLELAND -0.261
LANDRIEU -0.237
CARPER -0.235
HOLLINGS -0.231
LINCOLN -0.208
BAUCUS -0.175
BREAUX -0.106
CHAFEE -0.087
NELSON BEN -0.056
JEFFORDS -0.007
MILLER 0.032
SPECTER 0.033
SNOWE 0.039
COLLINS 0.082
SMITH GORD 0.216
FITZGERALD 0.235
DEWINE 0.242
CAMPBELL 0.248
MCCAIN 0.254
WARNER 0.256
STEVENS 0.265
DOMENICI 0.269
LUGAR 0.27
HATCH 0.315
COCHRAN 0.316
VOINOVICH 0.333
BOND 0.344
BENNETT 0.36
ALLEN 0.369
FRIST 0.372
HUTCHISON 0.377
ENSIGN 0.378
THURMOND 0.384
HAGEL 0.387
SANTORUM 0.388
GRASSLEY 0.396
MURKOWSKI 0.396
ROBERTS 0.408
THOMPSON 0.411
SHELBY 0.414
BURNS 0.421
GREGG 0.436
CRAPO 0.438
MCCONNELL 0.45
CRAIG 0.486
HUTCHINSON 0.489
LOTT 0.511
THOMAS 0.514
BROWNBACK 0.521
ENZI 0.57
SESSIONS 0.571
ALLARD 0.628
NICKLES DO 0.635
KYL 0.637
GRAMM PHIL 0.646
BUNNING 0.667
INHOFE 0.681
SMITH ROBE 0.798
HELMS 0.809

By the way, if you've come here via a link from somewhere else, you should note that this post has been updated here.