John McCain, Not So Mavericky Anymore

By
Thursday, May 06, 2010 at 12:06 pm

In a newly published paper, Ben Lauderdale, a Ph.D. student in Princeton’s Department of Politics, uses a statistical analysis to plot the relative mavericky-ness of various members of Congress. Mavericks, he explained to John Sides, are members who vote “less on the basis of the political dimension that predicts all legislators’ behavior and more on particularistic factors unique to themselves.” In other words, their voting might seem erratic in the context of a rigid political spectrum, reflecting an idiosyncratic willingness to break ranks to support or oppose legislation on specific policy grounds.

So just how mavericky is Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who proudly donned and then curiously shed the mantle of the “original maverick”? Well, not nearly as mavericky as he once was:

McCain: Maverick?

So who are the true mavericks? Sides posts these graphs of the top 10 mavericks in the 111th House and Senate. It’s worth noting that seven of the top 10 mavericks in the House, and the seven most mavericky senators, are in the Democratic caucus — although, as Sides points out, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is only on the list because he frequently votes against Democratic legislation for procedural reasons.

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Confused
Comment posted May 6, 2010 @ 7:30 pm

Maybe I don't understand. How can an Independent be Mavericky?


gb_slacker
Comment posted May 6, 2010 @ 7:44 pm

He caucuses with the Dems


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mikebailey34
Comment posted May 6, 2010 @ 10:02 pm

Hmmmmmm….
I don't see our (Maine's) self proclaimed independent thinking, middling-minded (but actually [wink-wink] party lined Republicans) listed here.

Please (Ben Lauderdale, a Ph.D. student in Princeton’s Department of Politics) send your research to Maine's news organizations so we can better evaluate our free thinking, moderate (but actually [wink-wink] party lined Republicans) Senators.

We appreciate your efforts.


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vabelle
Comment posted May 6, 2010 @ 10:44 pm

McCain has never been “mavericky”; more like “maverickety”


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John Thacker
Comment posted May 7, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

“It’s worth noting that seven of the top 10 mavericks in the House, and the seven most mavericky senators, are in the Democratic caucus”

It's rather obvious that that would be the case. Most of the top mavericks are *always* going to be members of the majority, and the stronger the majority, the more this holds. Even in a simplistic linear model, that makes perfect sense. When the Senate had 60 Democrats, by definition 10 Democrats were more conservative than the average Senator. By contrast, when the Senate had 55 Republicans, 5 Republicans were more liberal than the average Senator.

In McCain's case, he opposed much of what George W Bush did, including some of his extreme positions as well as Bush's left-wing spending habits (something that many Republicans followed Bush on), but also opposes President Obama and the Democratic Congressional agenda.

Note that McCain's maverick score is substantially higher when Republicans hold a majority.


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Bryan
Comment posted May 7, 2010 @ 3:48 pm

Once again, Ron Paul leads the way. Even though his party may not give him credit, the voting public will.


IMissLiberty
Comment posted May 7, 2010 @ 3:57 pm

Funny how unusual it is to defend and uphold the Constitution and one's oath of office. That's all Ron Paul does, is decide whether the bill is legal or not, and vote only if it is.


Peter Kinnaird
Comment posted May 7, 2010 @ 4:30 pm

I've been doing very similar research. For those interested in this type of work, check out http://www.connect2congress.com for a cool video and interactive tool that lets you explore Poole-Rosenthal scores and other similar metrics and watch legislators as they change over time.


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