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Republican Freshmen Have Been Very Reliable Votes for the Leadership So Far

February 21, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

With the self-avowed nonpartisan Tea Party fueling the surge of activism that helped Republicans win the House in the 2010 elections, most pundits assumed the freshmen class would be more independent of party leadership and steer the Republican caucus in a new, more traditionally conservative, direction. However, a month and a half into the 112th Congress, the data suggests that the freshmen class has in fact made the House Republicans a more loyal caucus than it would be without them.

After 141 votes, the average freshmen has voted with their party more often than the typical House Republican has. The average Republican, Rep. Jeff Miller [FL-1], has voted with most Republicans on 90.8% of votes while the average Republican freshman, Rep. Austin Scott [GA-8], has voted with most Republicans 91.4% of the time.

During the orientation for new members of Congress, freshmen Republicans vowed to not be rubber stamps for the Republicans. “I’m a team player,” said Rep. Steve Southerland [R, FL-2], for example. “But I will say that I’ve never been a ‘yes man’ in my life. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve met several other members in this class that are like-minded. They’re not ‘yes people.’”

So far, Southerland has voted with his party 96.5% of the time and has the eighth most loyal voting record in the entire caucus.

The freshmen Republican class spans the whole spectrum of range independence, including Rep. Justin Amash [MI-3], who votes with his party less often than all but five Republicans (73.8%), and Dennis Roth [FL-12], who votes with his party more often than any other Republican (98.6%), besides Speaker John Boehner [OH-8], who has only voted once so far this session.

It’s not just the freshmen that are voting heavily along party lines. The entire Republican Caucus has voted together more often than the Democrats have so far this session. The average Democrat has voted with their party 89.8% of the time, which is about 1 vote (out of 141) less, on average, than Republicans.

That’s significant because one of the Republicans’ main lines of attack in the midterms was that the Democrats, even the most conservative members of the caucus, lack independence. In the final month of campaigning, the National Republican Congressional Committee aired ads against in dozens of districts that used falsified data to make vulnerable Democrats out to look like blind followers of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D, CA-8]. Many of the members who were targeted by those ads ended up losing theie elections. 

For a more complete picture, check out our pages ranking all representatives by party loyalty: Republican and Democrat. From there you can find individual members’ voting records and see where, exactly they have spill from their party.

Pictured above is the swearing-in ceremony for Tea Party-supported freshman Rep. Jon Runyan [R, NJ-3] who, so far, has voted with Republicans 91.4% of the time.

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  • Kentuckian 02/21/2011 1:14pm

    Wouldn’t these likely be because, at least thus far, most of the talk and hype of the Tea Party candidates, and their clear mandate, have driven the overall Republican House agenda so far?

    With the exception of the Patriot Act extensions, it seems many of the major bills being discussed have been at least in the direction the Tea Party would like things to go, and so they have voted along with their Republican counter parts.

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    KyleAbbott 02/21/2011 3:40pm

    Agreed. The main mandate of the GOP has been to cut spending and reign in government. Seems somewhat Tea Partyish to me!

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    hondapcgirl 02/21/2011 3:57pm

    I agree. Also, it seems to me that the Democrats would be voting against their party because they want to be re-elected.

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    donnyshaw 02/21/2011 5:14pm

    How then do you explain Ron Paul being so low on the party-loyalty list? Right now he votes fifth least often with most Republicans. Several other Republicans who are low on the list, i.e. defect from Republicans most often, are closely connected with the Tea Party as well. Amash, Johnson, Gerlach, Jones…

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    Abaratarrr 02/21/2011 10:33pm

    Ron Paul, known as “Dr. No”, uses his number of “no” votes as part of his campaign propaganda, Some of his 2008 campain materials listed counts of how often he votes no.(Dennis Kucinich plays the same game)

    My assumption is that Paul voted no where he could (no to a quorum call, seriously!) to make his statistical nos look better come campaign season. This may be a case of him playing with the statistics that opencongress makes available.

    come primaries when Donny Shaw does an excellent piece reporting on how often the primary candidates vote with their party, Donny Shaw will make note of the fact that Ron Paul voted against his party more then any other republican:). Ron Paul is smart, he is a republican in a democratic district were democrats no longer run against him.

    This was a good article and I hope you will continue to write on this topic. It will be neet to see if the different faction’s voting records stay the same or start to diverge as this congress progresses.

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  • donnyshaw 02/25/2011 8:14am

    Just a related link here:

    TITLE: House GOP freshmen mirror longtime members on conservative budget amendment

    “But when it came to a conservative amendment last week that would have enacted $22 billion in cuts on top of the $61 billion already proposed by House Republicans, the freshman largely mirrored their more-seasoned counterparts.

    Sixty-eight percent of the House GOP freshman class voted for the Republican Study Committee’s amendment, while 32 percent opposed it. That wasn’t too far off from the votes cast by more veteran Republican members, who backed the amendment 58 percent to 42 percent."

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