Since 2001, Hatch has been less conservative than the Senate GOP average.
Sarah Binder, a political scientist and Congressional expert at George Washington University, took a look today at Sen. Orrin Hatch’s voting record. (Her post is on the Monkey Cage, a group political science blog that posts on national issues; you can find it here.) Her two main conclusions:
1. Hatch’s move toward the right didn’t begin in 2010 as a response to Bob Bennett’s ouster; it actually began in 2008. Up through 2007, Bennett was generally more conservative than Hatch. From 2008 on, Hatch was more conservative than Bennett.
2. Senate Republicans have moved FAR to the right over the course of Hatch’s 34 years in office. By comparison, Hatch has moved much less. If Orrin Hatch seems less conservative these days, it’s because the party shifted around him. From 1977 through 1995, Hatch was had a more conservative voting record than average for GOP Senators. For the next 4 years, Hatch was roughly at the Senate GOP average. But since 2001, Hatch has been less conservative than the Senate GOP average.
To quote Binder’s post:
Judging from his broader floor history, Hatch does indeed have a strong conservative record. It’s just that he’s been left behind as the Senate Republican Conference has marched steadily to his right.
In 1962, Ronald Reagan left the Democratic Party and registered as a Republican. He famously said, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.”
There is no question that Orrin Hatch is conservative, and I’m not suggesting he could fit in with the Democratic Party. But if Hatch fails to win renomination next year, he may learn that the Republican Party has left him.