Independents and Conservatives: Obama rated most liberal Senator...Do you care?

According to the National Journal, Barack Obama is the most liberal Senator. And I believe that Joe Biden is the third most liberal. I seem to remember some consistent polling results saying that about 20% of Americans identify themselves as liberals, 40% as conservatives and 40% as independents. If that’s true it amazes me that Obama is ahead in the polls at this time.

It makes sense that if you’re a liberal that you would be fine with the Dems nominating the most liberal Senator and you would be eager to vote for him. But I’d like to hear from independents and conservatives. Do you care? Does this affect your vote?

I’ll answer for myself. Small “l” libertarian here, occasionally more of a conservative. I was considering voting Libertarian this time, but when Obama was nominated I decided to vote Republican. Not at all happy about their big spending ways, but it scares me to have an extreme liberal as POTUS for four years.

And please, please, please, let’s remember, this is a poll, not a debate.

Seems unlikely, but if they can provide a cite…or if you can provide a cite… ?

I’ve heard this too. Apparently “most liberal” means only “voted with his/her party the most,” rather than being based on their professed beliefs and policies.

That’s funny. Just four short years ago, I’m pretty sure John Kerry held that title. What an unusual coincidence.

It’s almost as if the word liberal has acquired a new meaning. As in “most liberal” = “most likely to defeat a Republican in an upcoming election”.

As a moderate I am fine with it–because I don’t believe it is true. I swear every four years this gets dragged out and dusted off. You know after awhile it sort of wears thin. So for me it is a non issue and in fact if I hear if from the McCain camp it goes as a negative against him. I like Obama and I liked McCain–the old McCain, not the one running right now. Too bad, but when he swung towards the conservative/religious side he lost my vote.

Political hit disguised as poll moved from IMHO to Great Debates.

I’m with Giraffe on this one. It seems every election the republicans break out this old saw with nary a fact to back it up. I suspect Plan B won’t be back with a legitimate cite with stats to back up the assertion.

As noted John Kerry was at the receiving end of the same bogus analysis.

Here’s what happened. Presidential candidates miss a lot of votes - they show up only for the big ones. And on those big ones, they tend to vote the party line.

So yeah, in 2007 a high share of Obama votes were with the Democratic caucus. Same for Kerry in 2003. Not so much during the other years - these 2 nominees had centrist inclinations.

What about the lifetime rankings? According to the same source - the National Journal- these are the most liberal senators:

National Journal: Most liberal senators, lifetime voting

  1. Mark Dayton, D-Minn.
  2. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md.
  3. Jack Reed, D-R.I.
  4. Jon Corzine, D-N.J.
  5. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
  6. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
  7. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa
  8. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.
  9. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.
  10. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt

Neither Obama - nor John Kerry for that matter - are on the list.

Blog devoted to debunking this meme: Most Liberal Senator.

Has the National Journal never heard of Bernie Sanders, say? As other posters have pointed out, four years ago, they found that
John Kerry was the most liberal Senator:

This year, somehow, John Kerry ranks as only 19th most liberal. How’d that happen? He hasn’t significantly switched any of his major positions, as far as I know.

And remember Kerry’s running mate, John Edwards, who was ranked fourth most liberal in the same ratings that placed Kerry first? He’s all over the map too:

In short, these National Review ratings look like semi-random bullshit that they tweak and fluff however they want in order to attach the “most liberal” label to the Democrat they happen to be gunning for at any particular time.

If Obama is, in fact, the most liberal Senator while Biden is, in fact, the third most liberal Senator, that’s fine by me. I only wish it were so.

Nah, doesn’t matter to me. He’s too liberal and that’s enough to keep me from voting for him. Relative liberalness isn’t the problem, absolute liberalness is (same with conservatives).

Gee, and just back in 2006, National Review ranked him only at 19th most liberal.

What an interesting coincidence that the Democratic Presidential candidate, in both 2004 and 2008, was rated by National Review as the Number One Absolutely Mostest Liberalest Senator (with his running mate, in both cases, only a couple-three slots behind), whereas all four people in other years had been pretty much everywhere in the “liberality” rankings from the 50th or 30th percentile on up!

I don’t think you’ve got a thing to worry about, sugar. Obama is not an “extreme liberal” by any stretch of the imagination, unless you happen to have an imagination like the National Review’s.

Since you’ve already been called on this one, let’s go ahead and end the debate. It’s a bullshit claim. Even the National Journal themselves will happily tell you it was bullshit when they made the same claim regarding Kerry. Why don’t I just let them speak for themselves. This little essay came out after they labelled John Kerry in the same manner:


Whoops, I typed “National Review” several times in the above posts when I meant “National Journal”. Never mind, sorry, carry on.

As argued above, the tag most liberal comes from a rather simplistic assessment based on Congressional vote polarisation, and not any substantive political positions.

It’s a very limited measure on the substance. Obama is more liberal than Hillary on some issues, and less liberal than her on others. He’s hard to pigeon hole when you actually examine his stances.

One thing we do know is that he has a deserved reputation for listening to advice from all walks of life, which has been demonstrated through his political life by the kind of advisers and wonk team he surrounds himself with. Another thing we know, and it came out a bit in the debates, is that he resists indulging in pith despite its political potency because he bring a law professorial temperate to his considerations - conceding validity to different views, balancing values and opinions. IMO that takes a lot of balance, humility and moderation to carry off sincerely. You can’t fake it.

Of course, some people will buy into this narrative anyway. But ask yourself, in the comparison between McCain’s 90% Bush record, and Obama’s lesser record of working with Republicans, does it not matter that much of this occurred during a time when one party has been consistently wrong on the issues. Bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship is meaningless if one side is significantly more repugnant. If Republicans were all like Hagel and Lugar - it would make a bit more sense to rate voting record bipartisanship as a virtue in the abstract.

I wish he were more liberal. He is too damn conservative for me. I prefer Fiengold or Sanders.

Well as I said, I was interested in a poll, not a debate. No big deal, the OP only has no much influence. Enjoy!

Yes but your poll was based on a (at the very least) debatable premise.