". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


GOP Senators the Most Conservative Bunch in Years: Study

March 26, 2024

While it’s cold comfort in a chamber controlled by the farthest of leftists, a new study should give conservatives some hope in a Congress that hasn’t accomplished all that much for Republicans. There’s a major shift underway in the U.S. Senate, CPAC Foundation’s Center for Legislative Accountability says, and the GOP may be an election away from reaping the benefits. According to research, this body of Republican senators is far more conservative than their predecessors — and becoming more so every November.

Looking back on recent Senate votes, the foundation estimates that Republicans took the conservative position 80% of the time. And while that’s a “far cry” from Democrats (who cozied up to the extreme Left 98% of the time), the GOP’s stat is greatly improved from even a few Congresses ago. Their loyalty to conservatism was helped along by a few key replacements: Katie Britt for Richard Shelby in Alabama, Eric Schmitt for Roy Blunt in Missouri, Ted Budd for Richard Burr in North Carolina, and J.D. Vance for Rob Portman in Ohio. In every instance, a more moderate Republican was replaced by a small government, social conservative.

Making matters more interesting, the least conservative members include the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who ranks as the fourth most moderate Republican, behind Mitt Romney (R-Utah) at 59%, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) at 55%, and the most liberal GOP senator of all, Susan Collins (R-Maine) — who can barely bring herself to vote conservative half the time (54%).

As The Daily Wire’s Luke Rosiak points out, that gap means Republican leaders are “increasingly out of step with the members it represents,” and “will continue to be” based on the people throwing their hat in the ring to replace McConnell. Neither Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) nor John Cornyn (R-Texas) cracked even 80% on the conservative scale, coming in at 71% and 79%, respectively. (If Republicans want a true conservative, they’d need the one man who scored a perfect 100% on the foundation’s metric: Utah’s Mike Lee.)

This may also explain why Senate leaders are so quick to “compromise with Democrats,” as Americans watched with horror in the most recent round of spending bills. After all, in Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) party, there are no legitimate “moderates,” the study’s authors point out. The highest scoring Democrat in the Senate — Joe Manchin (W.Va.) — only voted conservative 30% of the time, whereas Collins voted with her caucus 46%. Essentially, the report points out, there are no “moderates” in the Democratic Party.

Republican leaders have been much more comfortable giving away the farm in negotiations, as frustrated conservatives like Rick Scott (R-Fla.) have pointed out. “McConnell and Schumer have been up here forever, right?” he vented on “Washington Watch” after the Kentuckian announced his retirement. “When they came up here, the debt was less than $5 trillion. Now we have $30 — almost $35 — trillion. We’ve got high inflation. We’re spending more [paying off the debt’s interest] than we are on the defense budget.” And yet, he said, “… We have a majority in the House. … So shouldn’t we take their lead instead of taking Chuck Schumer’s lead? But what Mitch McConnell has been doing is he’s on Chuck Schumer side. So he’ll organize whatever votes it takes to do whatever Chuck Schumer wants to get done. And so that’s how we get the debt, how we get no border security.”

But that’s about to change, many believe. This election cycle, Democrats have the unenviable job of defending 23 of the 34 seats up for grabs at a time when the leader of their party — Joe Biden — is swimming in disapproval polls. At least five of those races could be possible flips for the GOP, especially in key swing states like Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. A number of others will be highly competitive, leaving Schumer’s hold on the majority tenuous at best.

For now, Family Research Council’s Quena Gonzalez said, these numbers should be “an encouragement to conservatives and a wake-up call to those running to lead the Senate Republican Conference.” FRC Action Director Matt Carpenter, agreed. “In recent years, the U.S. Senate has not been favorable terrain for conservative policy priorities. Voters are smart. They understand the work of a legislative body requires give and take and compromise, but all too often common sense conservative policies have been shut out of final negotiations. As the Senate GOP becomes more conservative, it will likely be more willing to go to bat for their conservative base on the issues they care about.”

At the end of the day, FRC President Tony Perkins pointed out in a conversation with Indiana Senator Mike Braun (R) earlier this month, “Elections matter. And this is a message that conservatives [shouldn’t] give up. We’re close to a tipping point. We’ve just got to keep voting and get those conservative, constitutionally-minded senators where we can hold the line…”

The Hoosier agreed, admitting that a lot of the news coming out of Congress lately seems “pretty dismal.” “But in [a] little over five years, I can see that we’ve made progress on changing the composition of the Republican Senate caucus. In other words, it’s going more to faith, family, freedom. Don’t borrow money from your kids and grandkids. What could be simpler if you’re a conservative. We need to keep [fighting],” he said on Super Tuesday. “Tonight is the beginning of 2024. We do well on the Senate races … then we’re there.”

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.