Skip to comments.How Conservative Is Rick Santorumís Record?
Posted on 03/16/2012 9:03:36 AM PDT by Josh Painter
Rick Santorum is regarded by many of his supporters as the real conservative in the GOP presidential race, and most Democrats pay him the unintended compliment of considering him an arch-conservative. Undoubtedly, Santorum is a conservative of a certain type, but how far to the right was his voting record during the three terms he spent in the United States Senate?
To answer this question, I went to the American Conservative Unions ratings archive for 2006, Santorums last year as a senator, and looked up the lifetime ratings of those who were in the Senate at that time. One could debate voting records endlessly, but most observers consider the ACUs ratings to be a reliable and objective index of where a senator or congressman fits on the political spectrum.
In 2006, there were 50 Republican senators. (Jumping Jim Jeffords switched parties somewhere in that time frame; I counted him as a Democrat. The ladies from Maine, of course, counted as Republicans.) Santorums lifetime ACU rating as of 2006 was 88.1. That is a pretty good rating, but Santorum was not one of the most conservative senators. On the contrary: while 20 Republicans had voting records that the ACU rated as more liberal than Santorums, 26 had voting records that were more conservative. Four Republican senators had ratings with one percent of Santorums, which I regarded as equivalent.
Thus, by this measure, Santorum was actually in the more moderate half of Republican senators during his years in that body. Bob Dole had a more conservative lifetime voting record; so did Trent Lott, John Sununu, Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, and Orrin Hatch, who is now facing a Tea Party challenge in Utah. Bill Frist, not generally known as a fire-eater, had a record almost exactly as conservative as Santorums, at 87.8.
The explanation for these numbers is evident: while Santorum was a reliably conservative senator on social issues, he was not very conservative, for a Republican, on economic and fiscal issues. All of the four remaining contenders in the GOP presidential field are conservatives, but they are conservatives of different stripes. It is not accurate to describe Santorum as the most conservative of the four, or as the only real conservative in the group.
You are correct about Thompson. Also, Rick’s lifetime rating was lower than his final 2,3, and 4-year average — he was getting more conservative before he lost his election. His last couple of years were in the mid-90s rating-wise.
And as I pointed out, Newt Gingrich’s ACU lifetime is barely higher than Santorum’s, and he also was behind many of the Senators that people here are mocking Santorum about, including Lindsay Graham.
Of course, Lindsay Graham’s ACU rating is a bit lower now than 2006.
Good catch(es); and furthermore, Liddy Dole’s lifetime rating is only an 85. Terrible fact checking on the author’s part.
Santorum IS as conservative as he says. An 88% lifetime ACU score is a conservative score. Remember that he was representing PA. Not TX or SC where it’s much easier for conservatives to get elected.
Perhaps a more instructive way to look at Santorum’s Lifetime ACU rating of 88.1%(House+Senate) is to observe each of the rated Senate years that make up the average. It becomes glaringly obvious that Santorum was becoming increasingly more conservative as the years went by, and was far more conservative as a Senator representing the entire state than he had been as a Republican Congressman representing the heavily Democratic 18th District. He nonetheless compiled a 78.5% ACU average for his 4 years in the House.
It should also be noted that his Lifetime Senate ACU average is 92.1%.
His 12 Senate ACU ratings year-by-year:
If you take an average of the 6 years in his last Senate term, his ACU rating is an impressive 94.8%
He has shown a steady trend of becoming more conservative as he has matured from the 32 year-old House freshman of 1991 to the Presidential candidate of today.
For Santorum supporters, it’s fair to say that the trend is their friend!
Thanks, I really appreciate the info.
Newt? Not so much. He represented a safely conservative district in Georgia and never faced a serious reelection challenge. His forays off into liberal la-la land almost all occurred after he lost the speakership and quit congress.
As do I and I'm not crazy about Tim Murphy.
Well analyzed post-thanks
Gingrich's record in Congress is far more conservative than Santorum's. He's got a demonstrated record of conservative accomplishments that none of the other candidates can touch.
About the only thing you can really fault the man for, are some of the oddball positions he's taken since being out of office, most of which he's since recanted and apologized for.
You can't prove that by how he's campaigned in this election. The man is as stuck on big government social conservative issues, as he's ever been. I can't remember when he's significantly stepped outside that box in the last year.
Obama is laying waste to every pillar of our American system, and all I ever hear from Santo are social conservative positions. It's going to take a lot more than that to roll back all of the damage the Dems have done since 2007.
We're going to need a president who's got the reformation of our fundamental system of government at the very top of his list, if we're to have any hope of survival. Santo is not that man, in my opinion. I just do not believe that he's got it in him.
No need to, he has the ACU rating to guide us, which was the original subject of this thread that I was responding to.
Of course, there can be no doubt that campaigning in primary contests for the conservative base is a strategy Santorum has chosen. I'd say it's working, particularly given the limitations he's endured in organization and funding. Romney has overwhelmed him in those areas, yet Santorum has soldiered on.
This has now very much become a two-man race.
Hardly a shock, more like a mistake.
Bob Dole has a lifetime ACU rating of 82%, well below Santorum. Graham and Santorum roughly the same, at 88.9 and 88.1 respectively. Of course, it could be argued that an 88.1 in Pennsylvania vs. a 88.9 in South Carolina shows Santorum to be a braver and bolder conservative than Graham has the guts to be. :)
Well, you seem to be genuinely sold on Santorum. Fair enough, but he ain’t my cup of tea. I just don’t see a president there, despite his ACU rating.
Not particularly, I'd be just as satisfied with Gingrich. Our best bet is probably for the two of them to join forces and doubleteam Romney now. They can sort out who gets to head the ticket later.
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