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Pat Toomey: Conservative Hero

Topics: Pennsylvania , Senate

Is Pat Toomey too conservative for Pennsylvania?

This weekend in response to a post I wrote about possible Pennsylvania Senate match-ups Alan Reifman asserted that Toomey "is too far to the right for Pennsylvania." When I saw Reifman's post, I was going to respond "but Pennsylvanians elected Rick Santorum... twice." But before I did, I decided to contrast Santorum's and Toomey's DW-Nominate scores. DW-Nominate scores classify House and Senate members as liberal or conservative based on all their roll call votes than can be identified as liberal or conservative. These scores allow one to compare how rightward or leftward legislators are on a single dimension -1 to 1 scale with higher positive scores indicating a more conservative record*. What I found surprised me.

Using joint House and Senate scaling (which treat the House and Senate a single body to compare scores across chambers), we find that Pat Toomey (.718) had a considerably more conservative voting record than Rick Santorum (.349). To put that number into context, Lincoln Chafee (the ultimate liberal Republican and now independent) had a DW-Nominate score of .002 and Republican Arlen Specter had a score of .067. Republican Specter was slightly to the right of Chafee; Santorum was considerably right of Chafee; and, Toomey was much further right.

Still, I wanted to get a better idea of how conservative Toomey voting record was. So, I pulled the DW-Nominate score of every United States legislator (House and Senate) since 1995**. Toomey is on the rightward edge of even the GOP caucus as seen in the percentage histogram below, while his possible Democratic opponents in the 2010 Pennsylvania Senate contest are actually slightly more centrist than their party as a whole. Indeed, of the 1,004 legislators to receive a DW-Nominate score for their career since 1995, Toomey ranked as the 22nd most conservative.

Toomeyetals7.png

Toomey ranked more conservative than 97.9% of all United States legislators since 1995. He had a more conservative voting record than J.D Hayworth, Jim DeMint, and was about as conservative as Jesse Helms. Only Tom Coburn and Tom Tancredo scored further to the right.

vgtsw7.jpg

To put it into prospective, Pat Toomey would most likely be the second most conservative Republican in the United States Senate, which would be quite an accomplishment considering Pennsylvania has supported every Democratic Presidential candidate since 1992 (and Obama won it by 10%).

*For those interested, you can read a more in-depth non-technical explanation of DW-Nominate scores here and a more technical discussion here.

**The reason I use 1995 as the cutoff is because prior to the 1980's a legislator's liberal-conservative record was also highly correlated with a second dimension of DW-Nominate scores. Since the 1980's, however, the scores I use correlate highly with a legislator's overall record vote. Also, many conservative Democrats, who left the Congress after 1994, made Congress less polarized. In an effort to correctly contextualize each legislator's record discussed here, I decided to use 1995 as my starting point for scores.

 

Comments
Farleftandproud:

Yes, Toomey is way too conservative for PA. That is creepy if he has a higher score than Demint of being conservative. In fact I think he is more conservative than some Senators from the South like Huchinson, Alexander and Corker.

I actually think that someone like Tom Ridge who is more moderate would have a better chance, but that would make Democrats chances not as good.

I think I have decided which out of state Senate race I am going to work on since Santorum is very unpopular, and a northeaster state like PA doesn't need someone in the class of Jesse Helms or Tom Coburn. This is good information to have.

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Farleftandproud:

Is this article also implying that Toomey is as bad on race relations as Tancredo, Helms and Coburn?

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CHRIS MERKEY:

wow PA could have a senator almost as conservative as Coburn. He might move to the center a bit like Arlen did. It's different when you are a statewide senator and a represent a district. However, it didn't seem like he voted the way his district wanted him to. Allentown is not Oklahoma. I am surprised he voted so conservatively and was still reelected. He might think he can do the same thing as senator and still get reelected.

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gabe:

Toomey is already tacking to the middle with his primary race locked up. In a normal year I would say yes Toomey will be defeated by his record but this is not a normal year. Many right of center Dems in PA have been turned off by Obama and neither Sestak nor Specter is likely to bring them back. In the suburbs of PA the GOP has seen a resurgence of support, ironically Toomey runs better in the suburbs of Northern PA than in SE PA, the GOP heartland.

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CHRIS MERKEY:

I think Toomey will do fairly well in my home county, Lancaster. I didn't know he was from Lehigh Valley. He probably will pull more votes from that area than a typical Republican would since they are very familiar with him already. He's the hometown candidate. I worry about the suburbs of Pittsburgh. They used to be heavily democratic but they have been going further right every Presidential cycle. I am not sure what suburbs in Northern PA that you are talking about. You think Toomey will do well in Scranton and Wilkes Barre? I think Sestak will do well in those areas. It's the middle of this state that a Democratic candidate will always have a problem with. Lancaster, York, Cumberland

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Farleftandproud:

I actually thought Toomey was from out near Murtha's district in a more rural area, or the south/ctr part of the state. That is sad he is from Allentown, the same working class area that Billy Joel wrote the song about. It used to be strong union people and strong labor. Things haven't turned out so good obviously. Probably Toomey is partially responsible for outsourcing.

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Farleftandproud:

If Toomey is running that well in the Eastern part of the state now, I think if he comes across as another Coburn or Sarah Palin, the Dems can do some affective campaign ads. He won't get the royal Scott Brown treatment from the Media. He hasn't been exposed yet and that is what needs to happen.

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GARY WAGNER:

I don't think voters are diving this deeply into candidates records and voting history. If Specter survives the primary, he will be creamed in November. That would be the most energizing factor in bringing out a flood of anti-incumbents in an anti-democrat year.

Pennslyvania comes down to the power of the P's. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh will decide this election. If the democrats sit this one out, Toomey is in. It would be extremely hard to get those voters excited by the prospects of electing an ex-Republican to the senate.

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Farleftandproud:

The unlikely voters have wised up and Democrats won't sit this one out. You can count on that. If Toomey has the record he claims to have, I don't think the Suburban independents will go for it, just like they may have voted more for Mccain if he had not picked such a crazy running mate. I hope that Palin comes and campaigns for Toomey this summer, even if he doesn't invite her.

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bpuharic:

No one, unfortunately, is too right for PA. You can't go wrong here by beinge xtreme right wing . Obama was right; all they care about here is God and guns. The fact Toomey is even in the running should say alot about what PA voters think.

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Farleftandproud:

I think Toomey won't win next november, yet I did pull up his background and he doesn't quite sound like he would be as far right as he is. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Pat Toomey
AKA Patrick Joseph Toomey

Born: 17-Nov-1961
Birthplace: Providence, RI


Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Politician
Party Affiliation: Republican

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Congressman from Pennsylvania, 1999-2005

Father: Patrick Toomey
Mother: Mary Ann Toomey
Wife: Kris (one daughter, one son)
Daughter: Bridget
Son: Patrick


High School: La Salle Academy, Providence, RI (1980)
University: BA Political Philosophy, Harvard University (1984)


US Congressman, Pennsylvania 15th (1999-2005)
Chemical Bank
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation Board of Directors
Club for Growth President (2005)
National Student Leadership Conference Honorary Board of Advisors
Pro-Growth Action Team
Sertoma
Young Men's Christian Association


Farleftandproud:

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Farleftandproud:

The only thing that seems extreme is the Club for Growth.

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CHRIS MERKEY:

far left

did you see his voting record? he is right of Santorum by a big amount. It wasn't like he was voting his district either. It was Allentown. I think it's going to be a very close race but the Dems can definitely win.

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