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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.

  • Comm_reply
    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!

  • Comm_reply
    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.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/21/2011 4:22pm


    That makes a lot of sense. And although nothing has been spotlighted as “jobs creation”, it is budget cutting, like:

    H.RES.22 which reduced (by 5% of what it was in 2010) the House’s “representational allowances”, salaries and expenses of House leadership,expenses of committees, and (by 9% of what it was in 2010) salaries and expenses of committee on appropriations;

    H.R.2 which is about repealing the health care law voted in last year & instructing committees to find ways to replace it;

    H.R.292 which is about stopping overprinting (saving ~$3 million/year);

    H.RES.38 reducing non-security spending to 2008 levels or less for the rest of the fiscal year;

    H.R.359 which transferred excess funds from previous presidential elections to the general fund to paydown debt;

    H.R.519 to return $179 million to the US that was overpaid to the UN (defeated by Democrats voting against it);

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/21/2011 4:22pm


    H.R.72 to encourage job growth by having government agencies report on rules/legislation/directives they must follow that would prohibit job growth;

    like H.R.1 that they just passed which cut $60 billion from the budget.

    So, out of those 141 votes, they new elects are pretty much sticking to what they said they’d do.

  • Comm_reply
    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…

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/21/2011 5:56pm

    Excellent question Donny!

    Ron Paul voted against calling the House to a quorum on Jan 5 (makes no sense),
    against John Boehner for speaker,
    against calling the House to a quorum on Jan 6 (makes no sense),
    against a motion to suspend the rules for H.RES.22,
    abstaining on H.RES.27 (makes no sense),
    against a motion to suspend the rules for H.R.514 (Patriot Act extension),
    against H.RES.79,
    abstaining approving the JOURNAL,
    against H.R.514,
    and H.R.1 Amendments

    On the key issues stated above:

    H.RES.22 = Abstain (against party)
    H.R.2 = Aye
    H.R.292 = Aye
    H.RES.38 = Aye
    H.R.359 = Aye
    H.R.519 = Aye
    H.R.72 = Nay (with party)
    H.R.1 = Abstain (against party)

    So, since he votes with the Republican party on most of the issues this congress, which is the only congress the freshmen are in, other than amendments to bills, the only logical explanation for his voting record is the fact that he’s been in the game longer.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/21/2011 5:57pm

    The biggest voting disparities this congress are in the amendments to H.R.1, which, considering it cut spending by so much, I’m actually surprised he abstained instead of voted 1 way or another. Ron Paul has always been a little bit crazy though.

    As for the other congress-persons, I’m sure that if we looked at only this congress, most of the disparities would be in amendments to issues instead of the actual issues themselves. But, until someone provides proof of that, it’s only assumption.

    *All voting records courtesy of this website.

  • Comm_reply
    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.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 02/22/2011 7:09am

    Abratarrr, it amazes me that we agree on this. This was a good article and I hope Donny keeps writing on this as well for the same reasons. And I had no idea Ron Paul he was an R in a D world. That’s pretty amazing, although I still think he’s a bit crazy.

  • 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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