Heritage Action's legislative scorecard

Conservative States Lack Conservative Representation in Congress

Do conservative states send conservatives to Congress?

To answer the question, we have to know two pieces of information.  First, we have to identify which states are conservative.  As it happens, Gallup just released a report on the self-described political ideology of the states.  Second, we have to identify which lawmakers are conservative.  Last week, Heritage Action for America announced 29 Members of Congress — six Senators and 23 Representatives — achieved Sentinel status in the 112th Congress by scoring a 90% or higher on the organization’s comprehensive legislative scorecard.

As it turns out, only four of Heritage Action’s 29 Sentinels come from the ten most conservative states, as defined by Gallup.  Of those, three came from Utah: Senators Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch, and Representative Jason Chaffetz.  The other, John Flemming, hailed from Louisiana.

It’s not just the lack of congressional Sentinels from conservative states that is surprising, though.  As the chart below reveals, Gallup’s ten most conservative states are not, with the exception of Utah, sending a posse of rabble-rousing conservatives to Washington.

As a point of reference, Republicans averaged 66 percent in the House and 73 percent in the Senate on Heritage Action’s scorecard.

For some additional contrast, see the chart below on the states with the most congressional Sentinel – Arizona and South Carolina.

Gallup notes that while the “distribution of ideology in 2012 generally reflects the familiar ‘blue state,’ ‘red state’ patterns that define the political geography of today’s modern America,” there are differences:

The top 10 conservative states are all red states that vote reliably Republican in national elections, all located in the nation’s Southern, Midwestern, and Mountain West regions. These include (in addition to Alabama, North Dakota, and Wyoming) Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma, Idaho, Louisiana, Nebraska, and Arkansas. There is not, however, a perfect correlation between ideology and party. Three of the 10 most Republican states — Kansas, Montana, and Alaska — do not rank among the most conservative states. And Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas rank in the top 10 conservative states but not the 10 most Republican.

We see similar variation amongst congressional delegations.  Some of the most conservative states are home to run of the mill average-scoring Republicans.  And in the case of states such as North Dakota, Louisiana, Nebraska and Arkansas, they are home to self-proclaimed moderate Democrats (all of whom voted for Obamacare).

Gallup’s bottom line is that “conservatives still outnumber both moderates and liberals.”  Now, we just need lawmakers in Congress to represent that reality.

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Tim Scott Knows His Heritage Action Score

Yesterday, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced that Congressman Tim Scott will replace Senator Jim DeMint, who is leaving at the end of the year to run our sister organization, The Heritage Foundation. During a question and answer session with reporters following the announcement, Rep. Scott was asked how he compared to Sen. DeMint.  After flashing a smile, he proceeded to compare his ranking on Heritage Action’s Legislative Scorecard to that of Sen. DeMint’s.

Scott boasts an 88% rating, which is 22% points higher than the average House Republican. While DeMint will surely be missed in the Senate, we are looking forward to working with Senator-to-be Scott to advance the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

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Senate Extends Wasteful Fire Grants Without Debate

Late Thursday night, the Senate extended and expanded a wasteful and ineffective fire grant program with absolutely no debate.   In the blink of an eye, Lieberman Amendment #3090 was adopted by unanimous consent and became part of the massive defense authorization bill (S.3254).

The Heritage Foundation’s David Muhlhausen, Ph.D., explains the trouble with the delightful sounding fire safety grant program:

“Fire grants appear to be ineffective at reducing fire casualties. [The various] grants failed to reduce firefighter deaths, firefighter injuries, civilian deaths, or civilian injuries. Without receiving fire grants, comparison fire departments and grant-funded fire departments were equally successful at preventing fire casualties.”

The specific amendment, Muhlhausen said, “continues the fire grant program’s lack of focus on fulfilling a federal homeland security function. It continues to focus fire grants on subsidizing the routine operations of basic fire services.”

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VIDEO: Stand with Us, America

The election is over, but the campaign isn’t. President Obama’s reelection means we conservatives have to redouble our efforts to fight big government and stop any liberal advance.

Heritage Action is prepared and ready to keep the fight for conservative principles alive. We are keeping our local offices open in key districts across America to hold lawmakers accountable to our ideals. And we will not stop the fight against Obama’s radical big-government agenda.

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A New Welfare Czar

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson declared a “War on Poverty.”  Nearly five decades later, our political dialogue is still riddled with rhetoric that demagogues success.  Clearly, the so-called War on Poverty has failed to reduce the causes of poverty and, like most big-government solutions, created numerous unintended consequences.

After decades of failure, Washington successfully transformed one welfare program.  The 1996 welfare reform law – commonly referred to as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF – implemented a work requirement for participants that said able-bodied adults should work or prepare for work while in the program.

The law restored human dignity by ending government paternalism and dependency.  The Heritage Foundation’s Jennifer Marshall summarizes the results:

For four decades prior to reform, welfare rolls saw no significant decline and child poverty remained persistently high. Following the historic reforms of 1996, the welfare caseload fell by half. Nearly 3 million Americans achieved independence from government. Poverty among children and single mothers decreased significantly; poverty among black children reached its lowest level in U.S. history, as did the poverty rate for single mothers.

But in July, President Obama unilaterally gutted the law’s work requirements.  In doing so, he ignored the law’s success and his past support for such requirements. Heritage’s Robert Rector – considered by many the man behind the 1996 welfare reform law – explains the stakes:

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