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McCain: The Measure of a Maverick

- October 22, 2008

Charles Doriean has written a new and topical paper with Scott Page seeking to measure the maverickyness of John McCain as a senator. They’ve asked me to publish it on Crooked Timber, but I figure that political scientists will be interested too. The PDF version is “here”:http://www.henryfarrell.net/mccain_maverick.pdf and a Flash embedded version is below. In the authors’ description:

A maverick, … can be defined as someone who surprises us by voting against their party as often as they do, given their ideology. To determine whether a senator is a maverick (and how much of a maverick they are,) all we need to do is figure out how often we expect that senator to support their party, and then see how often they actually do support their party. The difference between the expectation and the reality can be called a “maverick measure.”

Under this definition, John McCain is very definitely a maverick. Indeed, he’s the seventh most mavericky Senator since 1877. However, he isn’t the most mavericky Senator in recent history; that honour goes to Lincoln Chafee, who comes in at number three. Also, McCain-ites who want to embrace this result should note that it is based on the same kind of measures of ideology (DW-Nominate scores) that have been “used to show”:http://voteview.ucsd.edu/Clinton_and_Obama.htm that Barack Obama, _contra_ the _National Journal_ and Republican mythology, is not (for better or worse) the most liberal Senator by a significant stretch.

Crossposted at “Crooked Timber”:http://www.crookedtimber.org.