Naysayers in the 2016 Utah Legislature

Even more so than Representatives, Senators really don’t like voting “nay.”

Utah legislators don’t like voting no. Well, most of them don’t. Only 3% (House) and 1% (Senate) of floor votes held in 2016 failed, and that was consistent with past trends:

Utah Legislature - Percentage of failed floor votes, 2007-2016

But every average has its exceptions, and this average is no exception. Let’s start in the House.

Who votes “nay” in the House?

Folks probably expect that minority Democrats vote “no” more often than majority Republicans, so I won’t dwell on them. I’ll just state for the record that the most frequent “nay” voters in the House were Representatives Chavez-Houck (15%), Romero (14%), Brian King (14%), and Briscoe (13%).

But there were a few House Republicans up there. Representatives Thurston (13%), Roberts (13%), McCay (12%), and Greene (11%) cast more “nay” votes than many of their Democratic colleagues.

The end of Dan McNay?

The big surprise here is that Dan McCay, a Republican, has fallen from his pedestal. During his first three years of service, he cast more “nay” votes than anybody else, of any party. Now, in his fourth year, he fell to 10th place–behind 7 Democrats and 2 Republicans. Maybe that means folks don’t get to call him Rep. McNay any more.

Who votes “nay” in the Senate?

Even more so than Representatives, Senators really don’t like voting “nay.” Let’s take all 75 Representatives and all 29 Senators, 104 legislators in all, put them together. Of these 104, let’s look at the 15 legislators who cast the fewest “nay” votes. Turns out that 13 of these 15 are in the Senate.

Let’s take another tack: 22 of 29 Senators–that’s three-quarters of the chamber–voted “nay” less than 5% of the time. The House is almost three times bigger, yet there were almost exactly as many Representatives (23, or 31% of the chamber) with a similar “nay” rate. Senators are just more friendly, I guess.

The highest “nay” rate in the Senate came from Republican Sen. Margaret Dayton, voting “nay” 11% of the time. That puts her behind 13 Representatives, but well ahead of any fellow Senators. Her closest Senate competition came from Sen. Jim Dabakis, a Democrat who voted “nay” only 8% of the time.

Find “nay” voting rates for all legislators here.

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About Adam Brown

Adam Brown is an assistant professor of political science at Brigham Young University and a research fellow with the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy. You can learn more about him at his website.
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