Tying together two posts from yesterday ... First, we highlighted GOP U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer's observation that his apparent opponent, Boulder liberal Democrat Mark Udall, is no "independent outsider." Later, we highlighted Schaffer's strong political independence based on his relatively high number of votes against his party while serving three terms in the U.S. House.
Since Schaffer touted his opponent's strong affinity to the national Democrats' liberal agenda, and the Left-wing "watchdog" group Media Matters made such a big deal that Schaffer cast "more than 80 percent" of his Congressional votes with the Republican party line, it seemed appropriate to extend the comparison. The source is the Washington Post's Congress votes database.
During his three terms in the House, Schaffer cast 534 of his 3,246 (or about 1 in 6) votes against the majority Republican party.
During his four-plus terms in the House, Udall has cast only 424 of his 5,372 (or about 2 in 25) votes against the Democratic party. And most of that time, the Democrats were in the minority.
Why is that important? As the statistics bear out, the majority party has a higher ratio of vote solidarity among its members because it carries the agenda. So, despite the fact that Schaffer spent his entire tenure in the majority and most of Udall's tenure has been spent in the minority, the Boulder liberal has toed the party line much more than his Republican counterpart ever did. Moreover, despite the fact that Schaffer cast more than 2,000 fewer votes during his service, he cast 100 more votes in dissension from his own party than Udall has yet to do.
If the Democrats are in charge, Udall follows the party line much more than Schaffer would with his Republicans in charge (unfortunately, a far less likely scenario in 2009): In the current session with the Democrats in charge, Udall has voted along with Nancy Pelosi and the party agenda 95.3 percent of the time!
Conclusion? Schaffer was right to observe that there is no "independent outsider" running on the Democratic ticket in this race. And Media Matters looks very silly for having made an issue out of the percentage of votes Schaffer cast in line with his own party.
Based on the objective measure of their respective Congressional voting records, Bob Schaffer will be a far more independent Senator for Colorado than Mark Udall would.