I concluded Senators and Representatives running for the Democratic nomination are drifting to the left as they campaign by observing that the phenomenon was more widespread than just current members of Congress.
By the way, the leftward movement of Democratic candidates isn't only shown by the Voteview scores of the current members of Congress; it's demonstrated by the Vote Match scores of all the candidates at On The Issues, which is something I found out after I wrote Wayne Messam at On The Issues, take one. Nearly every candidate has become more liberal either economically or socially, and a few have moved left on both axes.My findings are that, of the 25 candidates and one former candidate that I have examined, On The Issues rates eight as having become more liberal economically, six have become more liberal socially, and five have become more liberal along both scales, while four have remained the same and two actually become more moderate economically, so a total of nineteen have become more liberal on one or both dimensions. Follow over the jump to see which candidates have new ideological scores and how those scores now arrange the candidates from left to center.
Before I start, I'm sharing a reminder of my methodology.
[I] rank[ed] the candidates by economic score from low (left) to high (right, or in this case center) to make it comparable to the liberal-moderate (there are no true conservatives running for the Democratic nomination) ranking I used last [month and again earlier this month] which was based on the economic dimension [of Voteview's DW-Nominate scores]. I then used the social score to break ties in the economic score with high scores being considered more liberal and low scores being considered more conservative.With that out of the way, here are the Democratic candidates from left to center based on their Vote Match scores at On The Issues.
I begin with the farthest left candidate according to On The Issues. No surprise, it's still Bernie Sanders. However, he has actually moved slightly to his right, as his economic score increased from 3 to 5 over the past three weeks, while his social score remained constant at 98. I guess Bernie could only move in one direction, to the center, given that he was all the way out to the left. However that change was enough for On the Issues to change his position on the Nolan Grid the site uses, as 5 rounds up to 10, so Bernie moves out of the far left corner.
The next most liberal candidate is neither Elizabeth Warren nor Joe Sestak, at least when using the formula of lowest economic score followed by the highest social score. Instead, it's Kamela Harris, who now has an economic score of 8, while her social score is still 78. She has now moved one place to the left since mid-June, two if one counts Joe Sestak, who was evaluated last month using his Senate rating from 2010 instead of his current Democratic nomination score.
Speaking of Sestak, he and Warren are now tied for third with economic scores of 10 and social scores of 88. Warren moved three points in the liberal direction socially from 85, while Sestak shifted slightly to the center over the past nine years. Just the same, Harris has now leapfrogged Warren by moving to Warren's left economically while Warren changed her social position.
As Harris moved out of her old position, Joe Biden moved into it because of his changing position on abortion, something I expected last month.
On The Issues considers Joe Biden to be the next most liberal candidate with a social score of 75 to place him fourth. Well, it's been ten years since he was in the Senate, so his Voteview score may be out of date and Biden has probably moved to the left since then. That certainly applies to his position on the Hyde Amendment, which might change his social score, as the three point difference between Biden and Harris appears to be based on the two candidates' stances on abortion.It did change his social score, as it's now 78, the same as Harris, so Biden has become more socially liberal, which counts as his moving to the left. Just the same, he dropped to the fifth most liberal candidate, at least according to On The Issue's Vote Match (Voteview's DW-Nominate tells a different story) because of the entrance of Sestak.
On The Issues rates all of the candidates I've written about so far as Hard-Core Liberals. That will change with the next two.
Both Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand earned classifications as Populist-Leaning Liberals from On The Issues, which they have retained. However, their scores have converged to 10 economic and 68 social. In Klobuchar's case, that meant that she became 3 points more socially liberal, so she is no longer tied for the most socially conservative (or moderate) candidate with Marianne Williamson. First, Williamson's social score has changed from 65 to 90(!). Second, that position now belongs to Wayne Messam, although I think that, too, will change. In Gillibrand's case, her score dropped three points to make her more economically liberal, although her social score dropped at the same time from 70 to 68, making her slightly more socially moderate, all of her tending bar and shopping at Pride Month events notwithstanding. I still consider Gillibrand to be more liberal now than last month because of my emphasizing economic over social policy and because three points more liberal economically minus two points more moderate socially is still a net movement of one to the liberal end of the Nolan Grid. Despite their moving to the left, either socially or economically, both dropped to sixth and seventh most liberal candidates because of the entry of Sestak.
I now return my readers to more Hard-Core Liberals, including a few who moved into that part of the Nolan Grid from the right (actually the center-left) since last month.
I mentioned that Marianne Williamson's social score changed from 65 to 90; her economic score did as well, moving from 25 to 13. Combined, this is the largest jump to the left in scores of any Democratic candidate evaluated by On The Issues, a combined total of 37 points to the left on both scales, enough to change her classification at On The Issues from Moderate Liberal to Hard-Core Liberal. Her ranking rose from seventeenth or eighteenth most liberal candidate to eighth most liberal, even with the addition of Sestak to her left, the largest change in rank as well as score of all candidates. This move is very similar to what I predict will happen to Messam.
[T]here are a number of issues for which On The Issues has not recorded a position to score, so I expect that Messam's rating and classification might change...In particular, his position is likely to move left, either to Hard Core Liberal or Libertarian-leaning Progressive.It looks like the same thing happened to Williamson. Honestly, I'm not that surprised. I was wondering how someone as out there as she is would be rated as such a political moderate. I think the perception and the analysis now are in sync.
Seth Moulton became seven points more liberal economically, as his economic score decreased from 20 to 13, while his social score remained at 85, moving him from the twelfth or thirteenth most liberal candidate if one counts Sestak to the ninth.
The three candidates who had economic scores of 15 in June, Jay Inslee, Andrew Yang, and Tim Ryan, still have that score and two of them, Inslee and Ryan, kept their social scores of 85 and 80, respectively. However, Yang now has a social score of 83, three points more liberal than his score of 80 in June and breaking his tie with Ryan. Inslee, Yang, and Ryan are now the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth most liberal candidates running, falling from either seventh through tie for eighth or eighth through tie for ninth, depending on whether to count Sestak in the original rankings.
Before he dropped out, Eric Swalwell moved left as well with his economic score dropping by five to 15, while his social score remained at 75. That moved him up from the fourteenth most liberal if one counts Sestak to thirteenth, although if one doesn't count Sestak, he just remained at thirteenth. However, he has now dropped out, so all the candidates to his right move up one spot.
The two Texans in the contest did not budge in either of their ideological scores. Both Beto O'Rourke and Julian Castro remained tied at an economic score of 18. O'Rourke kept his social score with a score of 88, while Castro stayed at a social score of 78. Since June, a third candidate has joined the two Texans with an economic score of 18, Pete Butigieg, who has moved five points to his left economically and seven points to the left socially for a total of twelve points, second only to Williamson in total score change. O'Rourke, Castro, and Buttigieg were tenth, eleventh, and fourteenth or eleventh, twelfth, and fifteenth, counting Sestak in June. The ranking is now O'Rourke, Buttigieg, and Castro in thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth now that Swalwell has dropped out. Either way, O'Rourke and Castro have become less liberal relative to the pack while staying constant in their scores, while Mayor Pete has moved up in the rankings. As a result, On The Issues has changed his classification from Populist-Leaning Liberal to Hard-Core Liberal.
The two New York City area candidates, Cory Booker and Bill de Blasio, have also moved to their left and now have economic scores of 20. Booker had been the more economically liberal with a score of 25 while de Blasio was the more moderate with a score of 28 in June. Booker also became five points more socially liberal with his score on that dimension increasing five points from 80 to 85 for a net move of ten points to the left, while de Blasio become slightly more moderate with his social score decreasing from 83 to 80 for a net change of five points to the liberal corner of the Nolan Grid. Booker had been the seventeenth most liberal in June; he's now sixteenth, while de Blasio ranked as the twentieth most liberal last month but seventeenth now. As a result, On The Issues no longer considers them to be Libertarian-Leaning Progressives but instead Hard-Core Liberals.
Two other candidates also moved left economically enough that On The Issues no longer considers them to be Libertarian-Leaning Progressives but instead Hard-Core Liberals, John Delaney and Mike Gravel, both of whom now have economic scores of 23. Delaney moved left economically five points from 28 at the same time moving two points to the center from 85 to 83 for a net move of three to the left overall. Gravel's economic score dropped by seven from 30 while his social score of 98 remained unchanged. Because Gravel has the more liberal social score, I consider him to now be more liberal than Delaney. The former U.S. Senator from Alaska had been the twenty-first most liberal in June; he is now the eighteenth most liberal. Meanwhile, Delaney maintained his ranking at nineteenth.
Michael Bennet had been tied with Buttigieg at 23 on the economic scale in June. He has now moved slightly to his right economically, as his score along that dimension is now 25. However, his social score has moved five points in the liberal direction from 68 to 73 for net shift of three to the left. Still, because I prioritize economic over social policy, he has dropped three places from seventeenth to twentieth. He maintains his classification as a Moderate Liberal.
Wayne Messam, whose evaluation at On The Issues prompted my re-examination of the candidates, still has an economic score of 65 and a social score of 25, making him a Moderate Liberal. Right now, I rank him as the twenty-first most liberal candidate. Let's see how long that lasts, although I suspect he might drop out before his scores change.
In the space of one day, Tom Steyer went from scores of 38 economic and 60 social to 30 economic and 73 social, making him jump from being tied for the third most moderate candidate, to the left of only Steve Bullock and John Hickenlooper, to being the twenty-second most liberal to the left of Tulsi Gabbard. On The Issues considers Steyer to be a Moderate Liberal.
Speaking of Gabbard, the candidate who inspired me to perform the analyses of the Democratic candidates' ideological scores in the first place moved to her right economically from 30 to 33, making her three points more moderate. However, my notes listed her social score as 70 (the 75 in last month's entry was apparently a transcription error), so her current social score of 78 shifts her a net five to her left. That written, Gabbard has now fallen to the twenty-third most liberal from the twenty-second, making her the third most moderate candidate in the contest. She retains her designation as a Libertarian-Leaning Progressive.
Bullock and Hickenlooper retained their positions as the two most moderate candidates in the contest, but both have seen their scores move to the left, breaking their tie and changing their classification from Moderate Libertarian Liberals to Moderate Liberals in the process. Bullock shifted farther to the left economically from 40 to 33, tying him with Gabbard on that scale, while his social score remained at 68. That was enough to move him one place to the left of Hickenlooper while remaining comfortably to the left of Gabbard. Hickenlooper moved to the left on both the economic and social axes, from 40 to 38 economically and from 68 to 70 socially. Despite the shift in scores, he is now the most moderate candidate remaining. That might change, as Politico reported Hickenlooper campaign in shambles earlier this month. That makes him my pick to drop out next, probably when he fails to qualify for the third debate or runs out of money, whichever happens first.
That's my update on the most complete take from one source at one time on the candidates I can muster. Stay tuned for a driving update for Pearl the Prius.