Congressman Zack Space Declares Himself Center of the Political Universe

(Crossposted at your flippant and irreverant Ohio source for politics and humor, Athens Runaway )

Recently, US House Representative Zack Space (Democrat, Nancy Pelosi’s Lap Ohio-18th District) proclaimed himself to be the “political center of Congress.”

In a press release, Space cited a National Journal Congressional ranking which found him to to be “only 4 spots away from dead center” of the US House’s ideological spectrum.

The NJ‘s score system was derived from “a panel of National Journal editors and reporters initially [compiling] a list of 191 key congressional roll-call votes for 2009–99 votes for the Senate and 92 for the House—and classified them as relating to economic, social, or foreign policy. [...] The liberal percentile score means that the member voted more liberal than that percentage of his or her colleagues in that issue area in 2009. The conservative figure means that the member voted more conservative than that percentage of his or her colleagues.”

In other words, the National Journal’s score system is dependent on Congressmen breaking party ranks. However, this methodology is broken if a Congressman rarely defies his or her party.

A better methodology would be able to account for all votes, not just the votes when a Congressman disagrees with his party. When NJ finds someone to be “moderate”, that just means that they are in the mainstream of their party, not the House or American political thought as a whole.

Let’s go find some better tools to build this case.

After going to Congressional Quarterly Politics’ 2009 Vote Studies tool, and doing a bit of toying around with it, I was able to derive this interesting chart:

This chart represents the accumulative voting patterns of every Representative in the House—in terms of how often the Representative voted with their respective party, plotted against how often the Representative voted with the President—during the year 2009. Some dots represent more than one Representative, some represent just one.

As you can see, there are several conclusions that can be drawn immediately. First, we can see that the Republican Party is a “bigger tent” than the Democratic Party—there is more diversity of thought on the right side of the aisle than there is on the left. Dissent is tolerated within Republican ranks, but not as much within Democratic ranks.

Second, we can see that the oft-repeated mantra that the Republican Party does not contain the American political Centrist is false. There are more Republicans inside that overlap than there are Democrats.

Third, we see that Rep. Zack Space is NOT a moderate or a centrist. In fact, we see that he votes with his party over 80%, and follows Barack Obama’s lead at a rate of 90%.

Perhaps you’re unconvinced. Perhaps you think that you can’t believe your lyin’ eyes. Well, let me blind you with some science.

Using OnTheIssues.org’s VoteMatch tool, which plots political ideology on a two-axis graph—with “libertarian”/”populist” as the Economic Issues axis, and “left-liberal” plotted against “right-conservative” on the Social Issues axis.

All the input that goes into OnTheIssues.org’s tool is sourced from quotes and votes from the person, and is carefully researched. This chart that I compiled shows us the relative positions of the overall Republican Party, Democratic Party, Pres. Barack Obama, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Congressman Zack Space.

As you can see from the chart, President Obama is more liberal than the overall Democratic Party’s stated platform.

However, we see something that we should not be surprised by.

Not only is Zack Space NOT a political moderate, and NOT “dead center” ideologically, he is actually more populist than Barack Obama.

Now here’s the kicker.  According to OnTheIssues.org, Zack Space is more liberal than the Reverend Jesse Jackson—who actually scores as a political moderate, when viewed at the 500-foot-up view.

As I said before, who are you going to believe, me—or your lying eyes.  All of my analysis can be easily reproduced, and I encourage you to reproduce my procedure and see if you agree. 

Although he may think that the universe—both the physical and political world—may revolve around him, the truth of the matter is that Space’s Camp is not some rarefied, independent-thinking clubhouse for moderates.

Space’s Camp is located in a backroom of Nancy Pelosi’s little fiefdom, with a tin-can and string that goes straight out the window and to the Oval Office, and not to the people of Ohio’s 18th Congressional District.

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