McCain vs. Hayworth: No Contest for Conservatives

In his Pajamas Media piece “Please, No More ‘Half-as-Much’ Republicans,” J. Robert Smith states that swapping out John McCain for J.D. Hayworth in the upcoming GOP senatorial primary in Arizona is a “nice bargain from a conservative’s viewpoint.”

It would certainly be that, and an analysis of the voting records of these two men from the Grand Canyon State via vote ratings from the American Conservative Union (ACU), National Journal, and the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) highlights just how good a bargain it would be.

Looking first at the ACU numbers, we see that Hayworth’s ACU lifetime rating of 98 is significantly higher than John McCain’s lifetime ACU average of 81. In fact, in John McCain’s 22 years in the Senate prior to last year, he was only able to equal or surpass Hayworth’s low-water mark of 88 (in ’03) three times (’94, ’95, and ‘96). What’s more, with the exception of 2003,  Hayworth voted with the ACU position at least 96 percent of the time every year he was in Congress -- a feat that John McCain has only achieved once.

With respect to National Journal’s ratings, Hayworth’s average score for the 12 years he served in the House was 22 points higher than John McCain’s average rating over this same period (National Journal ratings are only available for McCain for this 12 year period, as he did not vote enough in ’07 or ’08 to receive a rating and scores are not available prior to ’95). To put this in perspective, this gap is greater than the 21-point margin in 2008 between Senators Sam Brownback and Arlen Specter. Additionally, just as it was with the ACU data, Hayworth’s least conservative year fairs very well against McCain’s average year. In fact, Hayworth’s least conservative score (78) is higher than any score John McCain has received from National Journal since 1995.

As for the ADA ratings, they too show that Hayworth is clearly the most conservative choice to represent Arizonans alongside Jon Kyl in the U.S. Senate. According to ADA statistics, McCain and Hayworth have voted against the liberal ADA position 85 and 96 percent of the time, respectively, over the course of their congressional careers.