If you are old enough to remember the 1980 campaign between Chuck Grassley and John Culver, you know that Grassley came up in politics as a conservative Republican.
Amazingly, the GOP has moved so far to the right, and the real moderate Republicans have fared so poorly during the last few election cycles, that Grassley is now among the least conservative Republicans in the U.S. Senate.
After reading this diary by David Kowalski on how losses and retirements have shifted the GOP Senate caucus to the right, I looked up the Progressive Punch scores for all members of the outgoing Senate. On this scale, the higher the number, the more progressive a senator’s voting record.
It would be inaccurate to call Grassley a moderate, because his scores (16.27 for 2007/2008 and 9.23 for the entirety of his Senate career) are way below those of the real Republican moderates. By way of comparison, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania has a 46.90 Progressive Punch number for 2007/2008 and 36.84 lifetime number. Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, more of a middle-of-the-road Republican, has scores of 27.61 fr 2007/2008 and 12.64 for his career, higher than Grassley’s.
Still, because of retirements and losses, Grassley has moved from the 13th least conservative Republican senator during the last two years to seventh or eighth, depending on whether Norm Coleman prevails in the Minnesota recount.
It just goes to show how extreme today’s Republican Party has become. For that reason, I expect the minority in the incoming Senate to break the record number of filibusters Republicans set in 2007 and 2008.