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This Week's Debate Crucial for Trump, Biden — and CNN

Joe Biden and Donald Trump won't be alone at Thursday's debate. Moderators Dana Bash and Jake Tapper of CNN will be on camera, too — and there's a lot on the line for their network as it fights for relevance in a changing media environment...

When "Conservative Democrat" Was Not an Oxymoron




In recent years, one’s party affiliation has become the key indicator as to whether a

legislator is conservative or liberal. In the House of Representatives, Republicans scored an

average of 81% while Democrats scored only 2%. The situation was hardly different in the

Senate. Republicans averaged 79% and Democrats averaged only 2%.These results are

peculiar because they point to, with the added context of CPAC’s decades of Congressional

research, major shifts in both parties with the Democrats leaning especially to the Left.


Consider the ratings of Maryland’s representatives from CPAC’s first edition of the

congressional ratings in 1971. If you were to be told that one member of congress from

Maryland posted a 75 rating while another achieved a “0," you would assume the Republican received a higher number. But the opposite was true. Montgomery County Republican Gil

Gude is attached to the “0” rating while Democrat Goodloe Byron, representing conservative

western Maryland for many years, achieved the 75. Similar results could be found around

that time in the Senate. In 1972, two Republican Senate veterans, Jake Javits of New York

and Clifford Case of New Jersey, each earned a “0” while Democrats John Sparkman of

Alabama and John Stennis of Mississippi achieved perfect 100 scores. Nowadays, it’s rare

to find a Democrat that breaks into the teens. Republicans, while less uniform in their

conservatism, typically don’t fall below 30%. Clearly, the parties have polarized into

opposite ends of the political spectrum.


When did this change come about? While the reasons for this shift are manifold, one of the main catalysts for this phenomenon occurred when conservative Democrats started losing their party’s primaries in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Take Congressman Kent Hance of Texas, the man

who had defeated George H.W. Bush to win his House seat, as a prime example of this. In 1984, he lost the primary for a Senate seat to Austin liberal Lloyd Doggett by 509 votes out of 1 million cast, a shock that convinced conservative Democrats in Texas they could no longer win

their party’s primaries. After this upset, many threw in their hat and became a Republican. This trend of purging conservative Democrats has been replicated time and again in the decades since, with the most instance of this occurring in Arizona with the complete rejection by Democrats of Kyrsten Sinema. Whether this phenomenon is best, I will leave for the country to decide.

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