09/12/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

"Centrist" Dem Senators Voting More Conservative This Year

The August break, when members of Congress go home to their districts to be screamed at (or to escape to the beach), seems like a good time to examine the broad scale of Congressional votes cast this year, comparing senators' voting behaviors this year with how they've voted over their entire careers. Today we'll look at the Senate. We'll use as contrasting data points the 2009 Crucial Vote Scores and the Lifetime Crucial Vote Scores from ProgressivePunch.org.

Progressive Punch uses an algorithm to identify ideologically polarized votes in Congress as well as ascribe a progressive or conservative value to each yes or no position. The Crucial Votes are a subset of Progressive Punch's compendium of all ideologically polarized votes, those in which a shift in three Senators from one side to the other would have changed the result of the vote and/or votes in which the progressives were on the losing side of the vote. 46 votes in the Senate this year have qualified as Crucial Votes using Progressive Punch's methodology out of the 270 total. We've eliminated Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd from the list because they've missed so many votes this year.

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