Yesterday, nine-term Representative Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Township, OH) announced that he will not be seeking another term in Congress. LaTourette marks the latest in an ever-growing list of politicians who are choosing to leave due to the rapid increase in extreme partisanship in the Capitol.
Yet LaTourette is a moderate only when compared to the current crop of Republicans. His DW-NOMINATE score of +0.394 is well to the left of the 111th Congress’s Republican mean of +0.623 (a mean which is certain to be more to the left of the current Congress), but also to the right of the Reagan-era Republican mean of +0.298. He is almost precisely at the +0.384 mean of all modern House Republicans dating back to the Nixon administration.
As a point of comparison, the 111th Congress’s Democratic mean was –0.362, just slightly more liberal than the –0.334 mean of modern House Democrats (again, going back to the Nixon years). House Democrats are, in fact, more conservative than at any time since Bill Clinton was elected President, barring a significant jump to the left in the 112th Congress.
Why does this matter? Because the extreme partisanship of the past two decades has come entirely from Republicans becoming more conservative. Compare the histograms of the House in the 111th Congress of 2009 to that of the 102nd Congress of 1991.
Note how the two parties have a slight overlap in 1991, with Democrats ranging from –0.8 to +0.1, with a peak at –0.4. In 2009, Democrats still had a range of –0.8 to +0.1, and still had a peak at –0.4. Yet Republicans of 1991 ranged from 0 to +0.8 with a peak at +0.4, while today they range from +0.2 to +1.3, with a peak at +0.6.
Simply put, Democrats have remained relatively unchanged, but Republicans have been moving sharply and consistently to the right.
And it is this shifting that leaves people like LaTourette, who would have been a mainstream Republican when Clinton was elected, to feel that he must leave Congress due to being marginalized as a lefty liberal.
We used to be able to get things done in Congress because compromise was possible. LaTourette’s departure is another nail in the coffin of successful action.
- Was Steven LaTourette About to Be Left Out in the Cold? (rollcall.com)
- GOP Sources: Ohio Rep. Steve LaTourette to Retire (fox8.com)
- The misery of the moderate Republican (salon.com)
- What Will LaTourette Say? (politicalwire.com)
- Portman Statement on Rep. Steve LaTourette’s Retirement (portman.senate.gov)
- Republican Rep. Steve LaTourette unexpectedly retires (dailykos.com)
- Ohio Republican Rep. LaTourette retires citing acrimony in Washington (news.yahoo.com)
- LaTourette retiring from Congress (politico.com)
- Retiring GOP rep laments lack of compromise (content.usatoday.com)
- Moderate GOP Rep. LaTourette announces retirement (firstread.msnbc.msn.com)
- AP sources: Nine-term Ohio Rep. Steve LaTourette to retire – Washington Post — Give Truth A Chance
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