September 26th, 2008
09:35 PM ET
14 years ago

Fact Check: Is Obama the most liberal U.S. senator, as McCain claims?

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Sen. John McCain, speaking at the University of Mississippi debate on September 26, said Sen. Barack Obama "has the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate."

Get the facts!

The National Journal magazine, in its annual vote rating, said Obama moved left last year to the "most liberal senator" rating "after ranking as the 16th and 10th most-liberal during his first two years in the Senate."

Americans for Democratic Action, the liberal activist group, and the American Conservative Union, the conservative activist group, also rate Congress members on their votes. Their findings describe Obama as one of, but not the most liberal U.S. senator.

The ADA gave Obama a 75 percent liberal score in 2007, 95 percent in 2006 and 100 percent in 2005. Other Democratic senators received 100 percent during those years. David Card, ADA communications director, said Obama's score was lower last year because he missed certain votes.

Obama has a lifetime ADA average of 90 percent. Other senators - such as Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and others - have higher lifetime ADA ratings. Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, was ranked as the most liberal senator by the National Journal in 2003.

"He is one of the most liberal senators," Card said, referring to Obama.

The ACU, which customarily places conservative Republicans on the top of its list and liberal Democrats at the bottom, has given Obama a lifetime ranking of just 7.67, according to the figures on the group's Web site.

It says Obama scored 8 percent in 2005, 8 percent in 2006 and 7 percent in 2007. Other Democratic senators in the ACU rankings have had lower yearly and lifetime scores, the site shows.

"He's one of the most liberal," said Larry Hart, the ACU director of government relations.

Verdict: True, according to National Journal, but liberal and conservative rating groups reached a slightly different conclusion.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Fact Check • John McCain
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. bob z.

    john mc cain should go to an old age home not run for president

    September 26, 2008 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  2. John

    Check your history. Liberal has always been synonimous with big government, which cannot exsist without huge spending. Elect Obama and you can kiss your tax break goodbye.

    September 26, 2008 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  3. Anish

    We are at the crossroads of major changes to come in USA. But we must understand that our government needs to realize that the rest of the world is changing faster than we understand. We can not influence rest of the world positevely with a military might alone, we must have economic growth. No coutry has done well in the long run without economic growth. I want my president to focus first domestically and do good for Americans at home, not spending billions of dollars in some country like Iraq where they don't like us. I am tired and sick of 8 years of GW and I want a change. These 8 years have ruined our reputation in the world, we are not longer respected and I want my America back the way it used to be before.

    September 26, 2008 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  4. shana

    i can agree with jill i agree with mccain on things but i also agree with obama...........i cant say that just because i am going to vote for obama that i disagree with mccain i dont ,i agree with alot of his ideas i just want to see if we can see something different in office....and my issue with this is why if im black and i vote 4 obama because of that im just sooo bad racist any everything else.....but if im a white
    woman or a feminist im supposed to support palin

    September 26, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  5. Kyle

    My comment was to REELAMERICAN, saying that it's 900 million in earmarks, not 900 billion. Fact check.

    Obama 08

    September 26, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
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