What do Romero and McAdams disagree on?

Looking across all 1,416 votes, Romero and McAdams disagreed only 64 times

Ross Romero, the Democratic leader in Utah’s Senate, announced in September that he would run for Salt Lake County mayor.A few weeks later Ben McAdams, Romero’s Democratic colleague in the Utah Senate, announced his intention to run against Romero. Romero was surprised and “a little disappointed.”

When two legislators from the chamber run against each other, we have a golden opportunity to compare the voting records. Recently I compared the voting records of Utah Representatives Carl Wimmer and Stephen Sandstrom, who are running against each other for Congress. Today, let’s compare Senators Romero and McAdams.

The data

Senator Romero has served several years in the legislature, but Senator McAdams has served only two. For this comparison, I use voting records from the 2010 and 2011 sessions of the Utah legislature.

Excluding absences, Romero and McAdams participated in 1,416 separate votes in the Utah Senate during this time. Many of those were lopsided. Only 149 votes were “close,” meaning that the winning side had no more than 20 of the 29 available votes.

The results

Romero and McAdams disagree less often than Wimmer and Sandstrom do. Looking across all 1,416 votes, Romero and McAdams disagreed only 64 times (that’s 4.5% of the votes).

If we look only at the 149 “close” votes, then they disagreed more often, with 16 disagreements (that’s 10.7% of the votes).

A caveat

Because Democrats are such a small minority in the Utah legislature, the real legislative battles take place within the Republican party. There are many votes that divide Republicans, but fewer that divide Democrats, simply because most proposals that come to a vote propose something that is far to the right of what any Democrats would support. (That’s just an impression; I’ll try to remember to run the numbers on that in a future post.)

As such, it might be easier to find votes that divide any two Republicans than to find votes that divide any two Democrats. In other words, there might be more disagreement between Romero and McAdams than these data can reveal.

Examples of disagreements

Of their 16 disagreements on “close” votes, 11 come from the 2011 general session. Here’s the 7 times where McAdams voted “yes” to Romero’s “no” in 2011:

  • HB007S1 (final vote), “Infrastructure and General Government Base Budget”
  • HB199 (2nd reading), “Advertisements on School Buses”
  • HB488 (final vote), “Budgeting Procedures Amendments”
  • SB065 (2nd reading), “Statewide Online Education Program”
  • SB 150 (final vote), “Negligent Credentialing”
  • SB 179 (2nd reading), “Math Education Initiative”
  • SB 229 (final vote), “Transportation Funding Revisions”

Here’s the 4 times where Romero voted “yes” to McAdams’s “no” in 2011:

  • HB137 (2nd reading), “Transportation Changes”
  • SB073S1 (2nd reading), “Public School Teacher Tenure Modifications”
  • SB239S1 (failed on 2nd), “Motor and Special Fuel Tax Amendments”
  • SB270 (2nd reading), “Modifications to Sales and Use Tax”

That’s just the 11 disagreements on “close” votes in 2011. If you want the complete list of all 64 disagreements, contact me.

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About Adam Brown

Adam Brown is an associate 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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2 Responses to What do Romero and McAdams disagree on?

  1. Scott Konopasek says:

    What will matter is not what kind of legislator they are/were but rather who is best qualified and prepared to be a CEO. These are totally different and unrelated roles in public service.

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