A Meaningful Comparison of the Voting Records of Senators Obama and McCain

“…they are clearly nowhere nearly as far apart as the Obama Campaign wants us all to believe.”
Sunday, September 7, 2008

Senator Obama loves to tell us, again and again, how Senator McCain voted with President Bush 90% of the time – and then asks whether or not we want to take only a 10% chance on change. Needless to say, the latter assumption doesn’t follow from the 90% voting record he’s quoting. It’s a joke to suggest that it does, but we’ll cut the Senator a break and chalk it up to what he thinks is clever writing. My problem is with the assumption that he (Senator Obama) must have voted substantially differently than Senator McCain.

And so it occurred to me… Forget about how often Senator McCain voted with President Bush. I’d like to compare the two Senators’ voting records to each other. Of course, Senator Obama hasn’t been in office for all that long, so what I’ve done is compare their voting records during the 110th Congress.

As you’re about to see in the enclosed spreadsheet, I went to a Washington Post website and compared their voting records with respect to 31 votes during the period Februay 10, 2005 through August 3, 2007 – votes which the Washington Post considered the “most important bills, nominations and resolutions that have come before Congress. …based on an analysis of the potential impact of the legislation on policy and politics.”

Here’s a summary of what I found. The enclosed spreadsheet has a complete list of the 31 votes. Please go to the Washington Post website showing in the spreadsheet for a detailed description of each vote.

Senator Barack Obama…
Voted on 29 of the 31 total votes.
Voted with the Republican (GOP) opinion 27.59% of the time.
Voted with Senator McCain 34.48% of the time.

Senator John “Maverick” McCain…
Voted on 25 of the 31 total votes.
Voted with the Democrat (DEM) opinion 40.00% of the time.
Voted with Senator Obama 40.00% of the time.

No question about, Senators Obama and McCain have differing points of view about legislation and how our government should be run – but they are clearly nowhere nearly as far apart as the Obama Campaign wants us all to believe. Not only that, these voting records data tend to support Senator McCain’s assertion that he is a “maverick” who has consistently demonstrated a willingness to vote his mind, for what he thinks is best for his country regardless of his party’s line. Presumably, the same is true for Senator Obama – except that, for some reason, he’s avoided making that point.

Here the link to the spreadsheet…
Obama and McCain Voting Records

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10 responses to “A Meaningful Comparison of the Voting Records of Senators Obama and McCain

  1. How do you find the Senate’s list of Senator’s votes on different bills? I don’t want a Mc Cain site or an Obama site, I want something from the government showing how these Senators voted.

  2. Hi. The voting records data I used came from a Washington Post website…


    …which focused attention on the most meaningful votes during 110th Congress. I did this to avoid getting caught up in Senator Obama’s claim to the effect that Senator McCain voted with his party (with President Bush) 90% of the time when many, if not most of those votes were administrative or otherwise insignificant.

    I also wanted to focus on a period during which I could compare the Senators. Since Senator Obama is new to the Senate — which is one of the problems I have with his candidacy, that is, his lack of experience — I couldn’t go back too far.

    If you really need a government source, just Google the US Senate website and check the voting records that are published there.

    Thanks for stopping by. Please stop back when you have time.


  3. Looks like weird math to me. How can one candidate vote with his oppenent a greater percentage of the time than his opponent voted with him?

    Those numbers should be equal. You’ve skewed the results with ‘funky’ math.

  4. Hi. There’s nothing ‘funky’ about the math.

    Out of the 31 possible votes on these key bills, Senator Obama voted on 29, Senator McCain on only 25. That’s what’s causing the difference between the percentages.

    Thanks for stopping by.


  5. Pingback: Obama and McCain voting records « Musings of a Thoughtful Conservative

  6. “The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can ‘throw the rascals out’ at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.”

    – Carroll Quigley from “Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in our Time”

  7. Hi. Interesting quote, but what would we do if the two party system effectively merged into one, or none? No primaries? Or maybe just let the the two top candidates in the primaries run against each other in the final — with the loser becoming the Vice President the way it was in the beginning of our little democracy?

    One of these days I’m going to write a piece about doing away with the Senate. I think the days when states get equal representation, regardless of their population are long gone. I’ll need all the comments I can get for that one.

    Thanks for stopping by the WordFeeder. Come back again when you have time.


  8. Besides coming from McCain’s own lips:

    I find FactCheck to very unbiased and (drum roll please) factual:

  9. I am a bit confused by your claims and your percentages. As far as I know, “not voting”, is definitely not the same thing as “voting with” someone. If that were the case then Obama could easily claim that all the times that he voted and Mc Cain did not meant that Mc Cain was voting with Obama. I figured the numbers based solely on actual voting and they only voted the same approx. 21% of the time. That means 3 out of 13 of the “so called” important votes. I wouldn’t exactly call that similar voting patterns.

  10. Hi. Thanks for your comment.

    Take a look at the table I included in the posting. As you can see, only two of the 12 votes which I counted as “voting the same” were situations when neither of the two Senators voted, when they both abstained. If you pull out those two, there were 10 instances when they both voted, and voted the same.

    Of the 29 votes (out of 31) which Senator Obama cast, the 10 votes he cast with McCain is 34.48% of the total 29 votes he cast.

    For McCain who cast only 25 votes (out of 31), the 10 votes are 40% of his 25. 40% of the votes he cast where the same as the votes made by Senator Obama.

    I didn’t count situations where one Senator voted and the other didn’t as voting the same.

    The point I was trying to make is that I believe both campaigns have taken liberties with their descriptions of their own and the other candidate’s voting records.

    Voting records aside, one fact remains clear about the 3 years both candidates have been in office together. John McCain has continued to be John McCain for whatever that’s worth. Barack Obama, on the other hand, has done nothing, I’m sorry to say, to accomplish any of the new world government programs, the “change” he keeps promising us. (He didn’t even discontinue the practice of earmarks until it became a campaign issue.) What’s he been waiting for?

    Please stop by again when you have time.


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