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Heritage Action for America recently updated its conservative rating scorecard for the 113th Congress, and to nobody’s surprise, Representative Jim Cooper (TN-05) has tied North Carolina Representative Mike McIntyre (NC-07) for the title of Congress’s “most conservative Democrat.”  With a conservative rating of 33%, Cooper finds himself markedly above House Democrats’ average rating of 6%.  Based on the votes that the Heritage Foundation has scored so far, Cooper has also voted to the right of six House Republicans during the current legislative session, as well as Republican Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).  By contrast, Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) – the only other Democrat in the Volunteer State who currently holds Federal elective office – earned a conservative rating of 10%.  

For a comparison of House Democrats by constituent demographics, David Nir’s breakdown of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections by congressional district is particularly helpful.  Cooper, whose district was redrawn after the 2010 elections and packed with additional Democrats, represents a constituency that voted for Obama in 2012 by a margin of 55.9%-42.5%.  Lest anyone be concerned that his own seat was in jeopardy, Cooper also won re-election himself by almost 33 points.  The conservative ratings of the 38 other House Democrats whose home districts supported Obama by similar margins in 2012 (between 54% and 58%), however, earned an average conservative rating of just 6.29%— making Cooper something of an extreme outlier.  Notably, Rep. McIntyre’s own district voted for Romney by a margin of 59.2%-39.9%.  

In an effort to avoid an embarrassing Reinhart-Rogoff error and allow everyone to verify my numbers, the data I used were as follows:

CA-03: John Garamendi (54.3% Obama)— 8%
CA-09: Jerry McNerney (57.8% Obama)— 0%
CA-24: Lois Capps (54.1% Obama)— 0%
CA-26: Julia Brownley (54.0% Obama)— 8%
CO-02: Jared Polis (57.9% Obama)— 8%
CO-07: Ed Perlmutter (56.1% Obama)— 8%
CT-02: Joe Courtney (55.9% Obama)— 8%
CT-04: Jim Himes (55.9% Obama)— 0%
DE-AL: John Carney (58.6% Obama)— 8%
FL-22: Lois Frankel (54.4% Obama)—8%
IA-01: Bruce Braley (56.2% Obama)— 0%
IA-02: David Loebsack (55.8% Obama)— 8%
IL-03: Dan Lipinski (55.9% Obama)— 8%
IL-08: Tammy Duckworth (57.4% Obama)— 0%
IL-10: Brad Schneider (57.5% Obama)— 8%
IL-11: Bill Foster (57.8% Obama)— 0%
IL-17: Cheri Bustos (57.6% Obama)— 17%
KY-03: John Yarmuth (55.7% Obama)— 8%
MA-03: Niki Tsongas (56.9% Obama)— 8%
MA-04: Joe Kennedy (57.1% Obama)— 0%
MA-06: John Tierney (54.7% Obama)— 0%
MA-09: Bill Keating (55.5% Obama)— 8%
MD-06: John Delaney (55.4% Obama)— 8%
MI-09: Sander Levin (57.2% Obama)— 17%
NH-02: Annie Kuster (54.2% Obama)— 8%
NM-01: Michelle Lujan Grisham (55.3% Obama)— 9%
NM-03: Ben Lujan (57.3% Obama)— 8%
NV-04: Steven Horsford (54.4% Obama)— 0%
NY-04: Carolyn McCarthy (56.3% Obama)— 0%
NY-17: Nita Lowey (57.1% Obama)— 8%
NY-24: Dan Maffei (57% Obama)— 8%
OR-01: Suzanne Bonamici (57.3% Obama)— 0%
PA-17: Matt Cartwright (55.4% Obama)— 8%
TN-05: Jim Cooper (55.9% Obama)— 33%
TX-15: Ruben Hinojosa (57.4% Obama)— 20%
WA-01: Suzan DelBene (54.1% Obama)— 8%
WA-06: Derek Kilmer (56.1% Obama)— 8%
WA-10: Denny Heck (56.3% Obama)— 8%
WI-03: Ron Kind (54.8% Obama)— 0%

1:36 PM PT: Update, 6/20/13, 4:30PM EST:  

After today's votes, Rep. Cooper now stands alone among Democrats with a conservative voting record of 40%.  This places him a great deal closer to Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy (50%) than it does to Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (14%).  

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