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Scott Brown is More Liberal Than Olympia Snowe, and Now He’s Pivotal, Too

Boris writes, regarding the recent U.S. Senate election (in which moderate Republican Scott Brown narrowly beat liberal Democrat Martha Coakley in usually reliably-Democratic Massachusetts):

I [Boris] disagree with Josh Tucker that the election isn’t that consequential. First, the pivotal Senator will now be a Republican, not a Democrat. The parties put a lot of pressure on moderate members of Congress to vote one way or the other; it’s often unsuccessful, but its a pretty powerful source of influence. Second, that pivotal Senator will be Brown, not Snowe (if my prediction proves accurate). Finally, this pivotality will exist on every issue, not just health care reform, which probably just expired in its current form. Not too shabby as a consequential election, right?

Based upon his voting record in the Massachusetts State Senate as well the Votesmart surveys of MA state legislators (include his own from 2002), I [Boris] estimate that Brown is to the left of the leftmost Republican in the Senate, Olympia Snowe of Maine and to the right of the rightmost Democrat in the Senate, Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Just as important, Brown stands to become the pivotal member of the Senate–that is, the 60th least liberal (equivalently, the 40th most conservative)-a distinction previously held by Nelson.

More here.

2 Comments

  1. dWj says:

    Unless there's a vacancy, the 60th least liberal is the 41st most conservative Senator.

  2. Willem says:

    This is median voter theory in action. The median voter theory doesn't matter much in general elections. You don't know how many people will vote and can hardly guess whether you would be the median voter. But if you know your relative standing and the number of other voters you can pretty much start acting like one.

    Funny though that a senator of one of the most 'left' US-states can hold the median voter position. Wouldn't you expect that to be one of a more median state?