July 30, 2007

Which Party Is The Most Partisan In Congress?

Both parties like to blame the other for failing to exercise independence in Congress. Their supporters blame the members of the opposite side for excessive partisanship which keeps Washington DC from accomplishing anything for the people. The Washington Post decided to take a look at the 110th Congress to see which party exercises the most partisanship -- and the Democrats win the prize.

In fact, the Democrats take nine of the top ten partisan spots, as well as scoring 8 points higher in partisanship as a party. The lone Republican ties for first, though:

100% - Charlie Norwood (R-GA)
100% - Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
99.7% - Nita Lowey (D-NY)
99.4% - Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA)
99.1% - Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
98.9% - Xavier Bacerra (D-CA)
98.7% - Diana DeGetter (D-CO)
98.6% - Gary Ackerman (D-NY)
98.6% - Hilda Solis (D-CA)
98.6% - Ellen Tauscher (D-CA)
98.6% - Al Wynn (D-MD)

Of course, Norwood is dead, and has been since February (h/t: The Anchoress). After Norwood, the next Republican comes in at 94.8%. JoAnn Davis (R-VA) has only cast 134 votes, however, as she has missed significant time while fighting a recurrence of breast cancer. She comes in at #174 on the list of partisans -- which means that Democrats occupy all of the previous 173 slots, of those among the living, anyway.

In comparison, Republicans occupy all of the ten positions for the least partisan Representatives. The percentage of party votes for these range between 68%-78.4%. The first Democrat at that end of the spectrum comes in at #18.

If people want to know which party better puts bipartisanship into practice, and which holds the top living 173 slots for partisanship in Congress, the Post has the information for them. (via The Moderate Voice)

UPDATE: Hey, what do you know? The Democrats win in the Senate, too! The Republicans make it a little closer, being less partisan by only six percentage points this time (88.5%-82.3%), but the Democrats sweep the Top Ten Partisans again:

97.8% - Dick Durbin (D-IL)
97.1% - Ben Cardin (D-MD)
97.1% - Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
97.1% - Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
97.0% - Joe Biden (D-DE)
97.0% - Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
96.7% - Jack Reed (D-RI)
96.7% - Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
96.6% - Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
96.6% - Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

The most partisan Republican in the Senate is the newly-seated John Barasso of Wyoming, at #13 on the list but with only 51 votes. Of Republicans who have served more than a few weeks, Johnny Isakson (R-GA) is tops ... at #28. Republicans take the top 14 spots of the most bipartisan Senators, with Lousiana's Mary Landrieu breaking the Democratic jinx.

Democrats -- They put the party in partisanship!


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» Should dead guys be counted as partisan? from The Anchoress
I dunno, maybe I’m just reading this wrong, but I looked at this very interesting study done by the WaPo, and I’m thinking…isn’t Rep. Norwood dead? How can he be the most partisan guy in congress, if he’s dead? He died i... [Read More]

» Democrats More Partisan? from Blatant Reality
Yep, it seems that the democrats, who claim they want more bipartisan action, are actually the most partisan in congress. In fact, the Democrats take nine of the top ten partisan spots, as well as scoring 8 points higher in partisanship as a party. The... [Read More]

» Democrats in Congress Are Marching in Lock-Step from GINA COBB
A new Washington Post study confirms that Democrats in Congress are voting vastly more in partisan lock-step with their party than Republicans. That's true even if you count the dead guy -- which, as the Anchoress points out, seems rather unfair. She s... [Read More]

» Who are the true partisans? from Brutally Honest
Captain's Quarters provides the poop and seriously folks, you cannot be surprised by this at all:The Washington Post decided to take a look at the 110th Congress to see which party exercises the most partisanship -- and the Democrats win [Read More]

Comments (28)

Posted by Derek Willis | July 30, 2007 9:03 PM


Thanks for your interest in our votes database. As its co-creator, I'd like to point out that the party voting scores are not indicative of partisanship per se but of voting behavior, which can have a number of factors. Obviously, support for one's party is large one among those, but not the only one.

Party voting, especially in the House, often is influenced by which party holds the majority. For example, if you look at the 109th Congress in the House, aside from a single Democrat who assumed office late in the term, most of the leading party voters are Republicans:


This too is not an indication of partisanship per se, bf the fact that a majority party in the House often must rely on its own members' votes to pass legislation, and thus usually requires higher levels of party voting than when that same party becomes the minority party.

Derek Willis

Posted by stackja1945 [TypeKey Profile Page] | July 30, 2007 9:11 PM

"Democrats -- They put the party in partisanship!"
Once again we are shocked. No? When will this all end? With the Dems/MSM never!
And people still believe the Dems/MSM. Anyone want to buy a Brooklyn Bridge?
Barnum would love these gullibles.

Posted by Rovin | July 30, 2007 9:17 PM

Nothing like working for what's in the best interest of the nation? We should all look so forward to more oversight and subpoena's to advance what this great nations deserves.

/sarc off

Posted by The Yell | July 30, 2007 9:25 PM

Sorry, I continue to lament the lack of Republican partisan victories on permanent tax cuts, filibusters of judicial nominations, drilling in ANWR, etc. And I believe its the "thin red line o'eroes" stalling abandonment in Iraq and open borders that keeps the GOP afloat.

Posted by sherlock | July 30, 2007 9:38 PM

Funny, I don't think those stats emerged since the Dems got to be the majority, either - they have been that way for years, I'll wager.

Why? Well it's quite simple. No oversight of Dems by the media, or by the Repubs, who foolishly think the job involves more than oppo-research work. No real critcism of anything they say in the press, but constant faithful repetition and support for any pandering or crackpot theory they come out with.

In that situation, the Dems have naturally evolved into a party of spoiled brats who love their party more than their country, and who feel the greatest threat America could face is to wander away from their ordained leadership.

The media thinks they keep the government accountable. Not quite. They keep the half of it accountable that they don't like, and the other half they have allowed to become children.

I wonder how many Americans have, and will, die as a result of this cozy little arrangement? No problem - when you have the refs in your pocket, there is never any penalty.

Posted by Del Dolemonte | July 30, 2007 9:50 PM

In the case of Dan Inouye, he's been there as long as Ted Kennedy. And the Dems in Hawaii will continue to elect him to office even after he's dead.

Speaking of which, the fact that Chappaquiddick Fats didn't make the Top 10 shows this poll is flawed.

Posted by Neo | July 30, 2007 10:11 PM

Bills Signed Into Law:

Iraqi Parliament 53
Democratic Congress 48

Posted by Bennett | July 30, 2007 10:13 PM

Both parties in Congress are partisan because that's what each party's activists want and expect. Everything these days is about what side you line up on, there's so little middle ground. I see this on blogs, in commentaries, editorials, etc., everyone is pigeonholed, liberal or conversative, left or right, this is how we all seem to be so why wouldn't Congress be that way? Actually I don't think most of America is that way, just that the middle-of-the-roaders, the independents, the sometimes left/sometimes right, don't get heard from much these days.

Posted by bulbasaur | July 30, 2007 10:17 PM

Once again the democrat narrative - in this case, the fairy tale of bipartisan leadership - gets body slammed by facts.

Posted by sherlock | July 30, 2007 10:35 PM

"Both parties in Congress are partisan..."

But the stats look pretty clear that one is a lot more so than the other. I don't see how they can be read any other way.

Would I like it to be more bipartisan? Sure, I am what you might can a social liberal and a defense conservative. I don't really care if gays want to get married, as long as the people who have our national security in their care are serious about it. If they are not capable of the same balance as I am, I don't want them running things.

I care passionately about civil liberties, for example, but I think I have the balance to understand that absolutes are dangerous, and I don't want people who say our civil liberties are endangered by carefully controlled wiretapping programs to be shutting them down and putting my family at risk.

What really bothers me is that I have the suspicion that such positions are being driven by a need to hurt a political enemy, not a real perceived danger. I do not relate to such people, and I will not trust them with my family's safety. And most of those people are Democrats.

Note I say "most" - John McCain has pulled some of the same absolutist stuff about the rights of terrorists to be treated as if they were American civilians, and I won't vote for him either.

Posted by hunter | July 30, 2007 10:40 PM

What it shows is we on the right have been played for fools.
The lesson of this is when our side's turn comes back - and it will, maybe very soon- that we take no prisoners. That we get done what our core wants done. That we get our President's agenda implemented. That we cram down the dhimmie's bs next time, not tolerating their snark and hate. Not letting them vote for a war and then take the enemy side.
Never again.

Posted by Bennett | July 30, 2007 10:52 PM

In re my comments that both sides are partisan, I suppose what I had in mind is that those of us who line up more with the Republicans aren't really interested in them being bi-partisan if it means they pass an immigration reform bill that we all despise or if they agree to tax hikes that we all detest, etc. It is hard to argue for bi-partisanship when there seems to be little room for compromise, where the parties (and the country) seem so far apart not just on what needs to be accomplished but how those things should be accomplished. For example, I don't know how many Dem members of Congress really believe we should get out of Iraq now, but I am certain they know that the core of their party believes that way. And it seems a whole lot of Republican members of Congress were prepared to support immigration reform (and certainly the President was) until the party activists brought their influence to bear. But maybe this isn't really responsive to the original post.

Posted by jim | July 31, 2007 12:41 AM

what is the point of this discussion?

your more partisan that me?

lol ... thats really leading by example

Posted by Only_One_Cannoli | July 31, 2007 1:23 AM

Jim's not impressed. For years now I've listened to the lefties complain about all the terrible DIVISIVENESS in the land. As if nothing could be worse. Well, looky here, it turns out that all that fretting was just bs. Your bozos are less interested in bridging the gap between us than our bozos are.

Posted by AnnDa | July 31, 2007 1:24 AM

A quick look through the same database reveals that the Republicans have been the most "partisan" (to varying degrees) for each previous Congress up until the 103rd in which the Democrats beat them by 0.1%. Sorry to burst your bubble sherlock.

Posted by Joshua | July 31, 2007 1:45 AM

Asking which party is the most partisan is like asking which breast has the most cleavage.

Posted by Bill Faith | July 31, 2007 1:45 AM

The One Hundred Third Congress met from January 1993 to January 1995. Read the paper much, Nancy Drew?

Posted by The Yell | July 31, 2007 1:52 AM

It would help if people stopped confusing bipartisanship with nonpartisanship.

Our national reaction to Pearl Harbor was nonpartisan. The Red Cross is nonpartisan. Voting sanctions on North Korea was nonpartisan. There wasn't a Republican or Democrat "angle" to the action.

Bipartisanship is just colluding with the opposition to get something done. It isn't the absence of calculated partisan interest at all. The leadership saw a way to promote partisanship through cooperation; it was the opponents who were acting without regard to the Party.

Posted by Blair | July 31, 2007 4:56 AM

This is a terrible metric for partisanship. The number of votes against the leadership can suggest many things. Or it might mean that the leadership is poor and out of touch with its members or that the party suffers from disunity. This measure is far more of a indicator of party leadership and unity, something completely different than partisanship.

According to this metric, the House Republicans beat democrats every congress in "partisanship" from the 103rd-109th. In the Senate the record is basically even. Would anybody conclude from this measure that the Republicans were "more partisan" for their entire majority, or rather that they better led and united?

Posted by crossdotcurve | July 31, 2007 5:58 AM

This post reflects a poor understanding of how congress works. Before you can cast a vote, a piece of legislation has to be brought up for a vote. *That's* where rank partisanship rears its ugly head. The current Republican minority is already setting records for obstructionism by a *three-fold* margin:


And let's not even get into how the Tom Delay congresses were run...

Posted by mer | July 31, 2007 6:45 AM

Partisanship with thought is a good thing. In fact, I prefer it over bipartisanship. Blind partisanship on the other hand is is akin to voting by pulling the lever labeled "R" or "D".

Posted by dave rywall | July 31, 2007 6:52 AM

100% factually correct but 100% pointless. No wait - 100% meaningless.

Posted by The Yell | July 31, 2007 7:01 AM


The total is higher because Harry Reid is hellbent on reintroducing legislation after it fails cloture.

Posted by quickjustice | July 31, 2007 7:28 AM

Here in New York, Democrat Nita Lowey was my member of Congress until I moved to Democrat Carolyn Maloney's district. It's hard to choose between the two for most extreme left-wing claptrap.

The GOP in Lowey's district refuses to run strong candidates against Lowey for fear it will bring out Democrats to vote against statewide GOP candidates. There also are rumors that the national GOP cut a deal with Lowey, promising her weak opponents in her home district in exchange for certain concessions down in D.C.

Such is the defeatist mindset of the current New York GOP, and the opportunistic wheeling and dealing of the national party.

Posted by sestamibi | July 31, 2007 11:17 AM

Um, #4 Julia Millender-McDonald died April 22 too.

Posted by sestamibi | July 31, 2007 11:20 AM

Oops. The late JUANITA Millender-McDonald.

Posted by Marcotico | August 1, 2007 3:53 PM

Maybe Republicans break with their party more, because Democratic Bills are better.

By the way, I noticed nobody has commented on Derek Willis's explanation of HIS Story. Typical Republican response, obfuscate the issue, and jump to the one line conclusion. You had 8 years, you blew it. Bye Bye.

Posted by Noumenon | August 2, 2007 11:23 AM

I came to the comments to this post thinking, "That's pretty impressive, but it needs context. I hope somebody put a link to some historical numbers so I don't have to look it up for myself." That's what comments are for -- if nobody in the comments debunks something, I'm a lot more likely to believe it. I wish somebody like Derek could be there to contextualize every blog post.

Marcotico, it seems like everyone is ignoring Derek's post, but in fact it's mainly just Sherlock, making the whole comment thread look bad if you scroll down too fast.