Partisanship ranking: The Texas Tribune list
Sat July 17, 2010 2:24 pm

This list of Texas House members based on partisanship appeared earlier this week on the Texas Tribune Web site. It was compiled by Rice University political science professor Mark Jones. To link to the list, click HERE.

The list ranks all 150 members from the most liberal to the least liberal (that is, most conservative). The methodology can be found by using the link, if you can make sense of it. I’ll try to explain it. The list takes into account all votes (yea or nay) taken by all legislators starting with the 1973 session. Every legislator is compared with the group that he or she votes with most often. The computer does not care about the subject that was voted on. It only cares about the cohort that the member votes with. The reason that Randy Weber ranks as the most conservative member of the House is not how he voted. It’s that on the sum of all issues that were voted on, he voted on the losing side last session more than any other member.

The methodology has been widely used for twenty years. It is used most often for Congress. It does seem a bit like statistical alchemy, but Professor Jones assured me, it has been peer-reviewed many times and it works.

Now, let’s look at the list.

Rank/ Member/District/Party/ Partisan Category
1Yvonne Davis111DemocraticVery Liberal
2Abel Herrero34DemocraticVery Liberal
3Garnet Coleman147DemocraticVery Liberal
4Jessica Farrar148DemocraticVery Liberal
5David Leibowitz117DemocraticVery Liberal
6Lon Burnam 90DemocraticVery Liberal
7Dora Olivo 27DemocraticVery Liberal
8Alma Allen 131DemocraticVery Liberal
9Eddie Rodriguez 51DemocraticVery Liberal
10Jim Dunnam 57DemocraticVery Liberal
11Ana Hernandez143DemocraticVery Liberal
12Barbara Mallory Caraway 110DemocraticLiberal
13Senfronia Thompson 141 Democratic Liberal
14Joaquin Castro125DemocraticLiberal
15Roberto Alonzo104DemocraticLiberal
16Joe Farias 118DemocraticLiberal
17Scott Hochberg137DemocraticLiberal
18Valinda Bolton47DemocraticLiberal
19Elliott Naishtat49DemocraticLiberal
20Trey Martinez Fischer116DemocraticLiberal
21Marc Veasey95DemocraticLiberal
22Armando Walle140DemocraticLiberal
23Terri Hodge100DemocraticLiberal
24Roland Gutierrez119DemocraticLiberal
25Pete Gallego74DemocraticLiberal
26Carol Alvarado145DemocraticLiberal
27Robert Miklos101DemocraticLiberal
28Solomon Ortiz33DemocraticLiberal
29Rafael Anchia103DemocraticLiberal
30Paula Pierson93DemocraticLiberal
31Mike Villarreal123DemocraticLiberal
32Veronica Gonzales 41DemocraticLiberal
33Carol Kent102 DemocraticLiberal
34Richard Raymond42DemocraticLiberal
35Armando Martinez39DemocraticLiberal
36Marisa Marquez77DemocraticLiberal
37Ellen Cohen 134DemocraticLiberal
38Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles 35DemocraticLiberal
39Hubert Vo 149DemocraticLiberal
40Kristi Thibaut133DemocraticLiberal
41Allen Vaught107DemocraticLiberal
42Harold Dutton Jr.142DemocraticLiberal
43Diana Maldonado52DemocraticLiberal
44Chris Turner96DemocraticLiberal
45Joseph Moody78DemocraticLiberal
46Norma Chávez76DemocraticLiberal
47Craig Eiland 23DemocraticLiberal
48Donna Howard48DemocraticLiberal
49Al Edwards 146DemocraticLiberal
50Aaron Peña 40DemocraticLiberal
51Eddie Lucio III38DemocraticLiberal
52Dawnna Dukes46DemocraticLiberal
53Mark Strama50DemocraticLiberal
54Chente Quintanilla 75DemocraticLiberal
55José Menéndez124DemocraticLiberal
56Ruth McClendon120DemocraticLiberal
57Rene Oliveira37DemocraticLiberal
58Ryan Guillen 31DemocraticLiberal
59Stephen Frost1DemocraticLiberal
60Ismael Flores36DemocraticLiberal
61Kirk England 106DemocraticLiberal
62Helen Giddings109DemocraticLiberal
63Tracy King 80DemocraticConservative
64Joe Heflin 85DemocraticConservative
65Sylvester Turner 139DemocraticConservative
66Tara Rios Ybarra 43DemocraticConservative
67Joe Deshotel 22DemocraticConservative
68Patrick Rose 45DemocraticConservative
69Jim McReynolds 12DemocraticConservative
70Mark Homer 3DemocraticConservative
71Chuck Hopson 11DemocraticConservative
72David Farabee 69DemocraticConservative
73Joe Pickett 79DemocraticConservative
74Allan Ritter 21DemocraticConservative
75Tommy Merritt 7RepublicanLiberal
76Mike Hamilton 19RepublicanLiberal
77Delwin Jones 83RepublicanLiberal
78Brian McCall 66RepublicanLiberal
79Todd Smith 92RepublicanLiberal
80Jim Keffer 60RepublicanLiberal
81Susan King 71RepublicanLiberal
82Edmund Kuempel 44RepublicanLiberal
83Charlie Geren 99RepublicanLiberal
84Joe Straus 121RepublicanLiberal
85Todd Hunter 32RepublicanLiberal
86Burt Solomons 65RepublicanLiberal
87Harvey Hilderbran 53RepublicanConservative
88Bryan Hughes 5RepublicanConservative
89David Swinford 87RepublicanConservative
90John Davis 129RepublicanConservative
91Joe Driver 113RepublicanConservative
92Will Hartnett 114RepublicanConservative
93Myra Crownover 64RepublicanConservative
94Dan Branch 108RepublicanConservative
95Jim Pitts 10RepublicanConservative
96Rick Hardcastle68RepublicanConservative
97John Otto 18RepublicanConservative
98Diane Patrick94RepublicanConservative
99John Smithee86RepublicanConservative
100Dwayne Bohac138RepublicanConservative
101Robert Orr 58RepublicanConservative
102Geanie Morrison 30RepublicanConservative
103Byron Cook 8RepublicanConservative
104John Zerwas 28RepublicanConservative
105Vicki Truitt 98RepublicanConservative
106Jerry Madden 67RepublicanConservative
107Phil King 61RepublicanConservative
108Frank Corte Jr.122RepublicanConservative
109Drew Darby 72RepublicanConservative
110Wayne Smith128RepublicanConservative
111Beverly Woolley136RepublicanConservative
112Gary Elkins 135RepublicanConservative
113Rob Eissler 15RepublicanConservative
114Dan Gattis 20RepublicanConservative
115Jim Jackson 115RepublicanConservative
116Larry Taylor 24RepublicanConservative
117Brandon Creighton 16RepublicanConservative
118Patricia Harless126RepublicanConservative
119Warren Chisum 88RepublicanConservative
120Mark Shelton 97RepublicanConservative
121Angie Chen Button 112RepublicanConservative
122Doug Miller 73RepublicanConservative
123Lois Kolkhorst 13RepublicanConservative
124Tryon Lewis 81RepublicanConservative
125Tom Craddick 82RepublicanConservative
126Carl Isett 84RepublicanConservative
127Dennis Bonnen 25RepublicanConservative
128Kelly Hancock 91RepublicanConservative
129Bill Callegari 132RepublicanConservative
130Charlie Howard 26RepublicanConservative
131Tim Kleinschmidt 17RepublicanConservative
132Leo Berman 6RepublicanConservative
133Tan Parker 63RepublicanConservative
134Fred Brown 14RepublicanConservative
135Betty Brown 4RepublicanConservative
136Charles Anderson56RepublicanConservative
137Jimmie Aycock54RepublicanConservative
138Larry Phillips62RepublicanConservative
139Allen Fletcher130RepublicanVery Conservative
140Ken Paxton 70RepublicanVery Conservative
141Jodie Laubenberg 89RepublicanVery Conservative
142Ken Legler 144RepublicanVery Conservative
143Ralph Sheffield 55RepublicanVery Conservative
144Joe Crabb 127RepublicanVery Conservative
145Wayne Christian 9RepublicanVery Conservative
146Dan Flynn 2RepublicanVery Conservative
147Debbie Riddle150RepublicanVery Conservative
148Linda Harper-Brown 105RepublicanVery Conservative
149Sid Miller 59RepublicanVery Conservative
150Randy Weber29RepublicanVery Conservative

Things I found interesting:

1. Only 11 of the 74 Democrats in the 81st Legislature scored as “very liberal.” For all of the liberal-bashing that goes on in Texas, the Texas Democratic party has a pretty moderate base. This is why Democrats have been able to win elections in Republican districts. Only 12 Republicans were “very conservative.” If you look at the members on the extremes, the “very liberal” Democrats have more members who are highly visible (Davis, Coleman, Farrar, Dunnam) than the “very conservative” Republicans (Christian, Riddle) do.

2. Note the considerable gap between Coleman and Dunnam (“very liberal”) and the third member of the Democratic leadership triumvirate, Gallego. The latter’s voting record is somewhat more conservative because he comes from a rural district and was a prosector.

3. The median Democrat (#37 out of 74) is Ellen Cohen. The median Republican (#38 out of 76) is Gary Elkins. This seems pretty true to form to me.

4. Among the twelve Republicans who are graded as “very conservative,” four are freshmen. Among the twelve Democrats who graded as “conservative,” all are veterans. It is not surprising that brand-new members of the more ideologically motivated party would find common ground in the politically safe territory on the ideological extreme, whereas conservative Democrats did not feel pressure to move to the center. Yet, only Rios Ybarra among the freshman Democrat aligned with the conservative Democrats.

5. The dividing line of the Legislature–between the most conservative Democrat and the least conservative Republican–falls between Ritter and Merritt. This too seems pretty true to form. Ritter is the most conservative Democrat, and Merritt was the biggest maverick among Republicans.

From here on, I’m going to let Professor Jones carry the ball. The following commentary is from the Baker Institute blog:

The Rise of Partisan Polarization in the Texas House of Representatives

Over the past 40 years, the ideological differences between the members of the Democratic and Republican delegations in the Texas House of Representatives have increased dramatically. Using data drawn from roll call votes cast by representatives … here I document the widening over the past four decades of the ideological gulf that now separates Democrats and Republicans.

In 1973, the mean location of the members of the Republican delegation on the liberal-conservative ideological dimension (ranging from -1.00 [liberal extreme] and 1.00 [conservative extreme]), along which most votes in the House are cast, was 0.44; while the mean location for the Democratic delegation was 0.01. Over the following three decades, the Republican delegation became increasingly conservative, with mean values of 0.45 in 1983, 0.58 in 1993, 0.63 in 2003 and 0.67 in 2009; while the Democratic delegation became increasingly liberal, with mean values of -0.08 in 1983, -0.23 in 1993, -0.28 in 2003 and -0.34 in 2009. [Note: It is interesting that the Republicans were at their conservative zenith in 2009, a session that is generally regarded to have been bipartisan. –pb]

The principal sources of this growing gap between the two parties include the transition of the status of conservative Democrats in Texas from abundant to endangered, along with the increasing conservatism of many Republicans. In 1973, conservative Democrats were plentiful, with, for instance, a full 37 percent of Democratic House members … more conservative than the most liberal Republican (who was never very “liberal”). By 1995, this number had dropped to 4 percent, and since 1999, there has been no Democrat whose location on the liberal-conservative ideological dimension has been more conservative than that of the most liberal Republican.

Paralleling the decline of the conservative Democrat is the rise of the very conservative Republican. In the 1970s and 1980s, a mere 0 percent and 3 percent of Texas Republican legislators were located respectively at a “very conservative” location (greater than 0.75) on the liberal-conservative dimension. The percentage of Republicans who were very conservative rose dramatically in the 1990s (18 percent) and 2000s (23 percent), with one in four Republicans in the 2009 House having a Liberal-Conservative Score greater than 0.75.

The impact of this increased level of polarization on the legislative process in the House has varied over time, resulting in a tendency toward hegemonic Republican rule during the speakership of Tom Craddick (2003-2009), when Republicans pushed through legislation over the objections of a majority of Democrats; and to the obverse during the latter portion of the speakership of Pete Laney (1993-2003) and during the current speakership of Joe Straus (2009-2011), when the more conservative Republicans tended to find themselves on the losing side of a greater proportion of votes than their Democratic and more-liberal Republican colleagues….

More Texas Monthly

Loading, please wait...

Most Read

  • Viewed
  • Past:
  • 1 week