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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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