January 31st, 2008
07:51 PM ET
12 years ago

Study: Obama most liberal senator last year

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/31/art.obamanj.gi.jpg caption=" A new study suggests Obama had the most liberal voting record in 2007."](CNN) - Barack Obama has demonstrated his appeal to independent voters and even some Republicans as he campaigns for president, though a just-released study from the National Journal indicates the Illinois Democrat was the most liberal senator in 2007.

Chief rival Hillary Clinton held the 16th most liberal voting record last year, the non-partisan survey of 99 major Senate votes found.

The study also shows both senators have moved to the left compared to previous years. In 2005 - Obama's first year in the Senate - he was ranked the 16th most liberal, and he came in at number 10 in 2006. Hillary Clinton has long held a moderate voting record: she debuted on the list at number 25 in 2001, and has been as high as 34. In 2006, the New York senator was ranked 32.

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, now a supporter of Obama, held the same distinction in 2003, the year he spent campaigning for the Democratic nomination. His high ranking was later used by Bush's re-election campaign to paint Kerry as an out-of-touch liberal.

"Ted Kennedy is the more conservative of the two senators from Massachusetts," Vice President Dick Cheney often said on the campaign trail, citing the study. The Republican National Committee also ran an ad against Kerry called "risky" in which an announcer said, "John Kerry…The most liberal man in the Senate. The most liberal person to ever run for president."

Kerry called the rating a "laughable characterization," and disputed its accuracy, pointing out that he missed 37 of the 62 votes on which the survey was based because he was campaigning for president. The publication has since raised the number of votes a senator must take to be included in the study.

Obama may be able to make a similar argument. According to the study, he missed 33 of the 99 votes that constituted the analysis. Clinton missed 16 of the votes.

But the details of the study suggest the Clinton and Obama's voting records are not as far apart as they appear in the rankings. Of the 65 votes included in the study that both senators were present for, they only differed twice - on a measure that sought to establish an Office of Public Integrity to handle ethics complaints (Clinton voted no, Obama yes), and on a measure that sought to allow certain immigrants to stay in the united states while renewing their visas (again, Clinton voted no and Obama yes).

Responding to the study, Obama spokesman Bill Burton said, "Only in Washington can you get falsely attacked for being like Reagan one week and labeled the most liberal the next. The tendency of Washington to apply a misleading label to every person and idea is just one of the many things we need to change about how things operate inside the beltway."

The full study is set to be released in March. The National Journal also notes Sen. John McCain, who is criticized by conservatives for some of his positions, did not take enough votes last year to qualify for the survey.

- CNN Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (219 Responses)
  1. Denise


    'Only in Washington can you get falsely attacked for being like Reagan one week and labeled the most liberal the next. "

    Also, has anyone noticed that Bill is packing on pounds? I watched his video today on 911 doubters and his jacket was really tight.
    Maybe more time in the gym and less on the campaign trail.

    January 31, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  2. disgusted

    liberal actually has a good meaning in the dictionary

    January 31, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  3. Shawn Baxter

    He missed 1/3 of the vote because he was on the campaign trail... he had to get out before Hillary to campaign because she has name recognition. So that explains why he missed 1/3 of the votes... when the study comes out you'll see that the votes he missed where all within the last four months of the year.

    Anything negative you find on Obama, what is the count up to now, two?, can't compare to the negatives that Hillary has in her closet. It's CLEAR that Obama is STILL the BEST CHOICE for the democrats.

    The economy won't be the major issue in November, it will be Iraq and national Security. Obama wins, HANDS DOWN, on the Iraq issue over Clinton and McCain. And because of his uniting abilities Obama will be MUCH better at national security because he will try policy first and war second, whereas McCain will use War first and Policy second

    OBAMA 08!!!!! Woooo HOOOOO!!!

    January 31, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  4. doro, USA

    I have just finished reading, " Audacity of Hope," by Barack Obama and i got a sense of the man.
    Most critical- thinking people reject labels and stereotypes as plain silly.

    OBAMA '08

    January 31, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  5. Deren, TN

    Don't worry the donkeys will win this year just look at history.

    Vote for who you like.

    Don't allow the two same families to run the country for 20 YEARS!

    January 31, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  6. matt

    If McCain wins, the librals can celibrate. The two Democrat canditates are very far to the left. And for a "Republican," McCain is also VERY FAR to the left.

    January 31, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  7. Sam

    The most Liberal.... Maybe, He really didn't mean to vote that way. The facts speaks for itself.

    January 31, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  8. MainS.Tream

    If only that were true, but it isn't. Some morons still think "Liberal" is a dirty, scary word. But guess what, we are the majority!!! And we're gonna save this country

    January 31, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  9. Jon, Charlotte NC

    i'm tired of "liberal" being a bad word

    January 31, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  10. Bison

    I wish Obama was the most liberal!!!

    January 31, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  11. earl illingsworth

    I see nothing wrong with being a liberal, matter of fact, I to am a dirty no good downtroddened sucker for the less fortunate! Remember ,it all comes down on who commissioned the study,Check Mate! Finally, I once read ,it's who writes the History, and which side of the fence, (biased) their on, gets the best publishers. Also not to be redundant, but most authors stay on the fence ,and never jump ,so as to maximize their procured interest!

    January 31, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  12. ES

    Obama is like the pied piper playing his beautiful music. Obama is playing his beautiful song of Change and Hope and people are falling for the music without lyrics. Obama have lulled people in this dreamworld. Hopefully people will wake up to the reality of the many issues that America faces and that we need the leadership that Hillary Clinton can provide. This is a critical time for us. Obama's background is short on managerial and leadership skills. All of his messages in his ads are only about excitement for change, unity, nothing more.

    January 31, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  13. kyle

    Composite Liberal Score. Wow, that sounds really scientific.

    January 31, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  14. Erik

    "Its been long known that Obama is to the left of the democratic party. "

    Well, in fairness the Democratic Party is not very far to the left.

    Also, what is the criteria? It's completely subjective. What is considered "liberal"?

    January 31, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  15. SJ Johnson

    I would like to vote for Senator Obama, But once again I will ask, "Where's the beef?" in your plans gor change?

    January 31, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  16. L

    I think they are trying to set us up for President and Vice?! Really, study their behavior now.. I believe this may even be a topic they have secretlydiscussed.. If one wins, the other may just be a great Vice President..

    January 31, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  17. Roger Accola

    I find it hard to vote for another Clinton when you look what they did to our military and how the rest of the world viewed the US after he lied to all the world about his immoral behavior. We as a country need a clean break and another Clinton in the White House is NOT THE ANSWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 31, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  18. No Hillary

    What makes everyone think Hillary can get the done. Does anyone know why she failed at healthcare reform. She doesn't have the ability to bring people together. Also may someone ask her about her sealed records in the Clinton library. She is full of lies and scandals!!!!

    February 1, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  19. obama/edwards 08

    good point lilian @ dartmouth

    February 3, 2008 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
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