Tiahrt, Moran vote ratings show slight difference

The campaign for the Republican Party nomination for the United States Senate from Kansas between Todd Tiahrt of Goddard and Jerry Moran of Hays is making national news. The issue is over who is the most conservative. A new article in U.S. News and Word Report states: “Both Tiahrt and Moran have portrayed themselves as fiscal conservatives, favoring lower taxes and less spending by the federal government.”

The Washington insider publication The Hill recently wrote of the “internecine fight for the GOP Kansas Senate.”

Merriam-Webster defines internecine as “of, relating to, or involving conflict within a group,” which might describe any contested political primary election. But this one is turning in to something resembling the other definition given: “marked by slaughter: deadly; especially: mutually destructive.”

Perhaps the reason why this campaign is turning negative is that on many issues, there just isn’t much difference between the two candidates and their voting records. Looking at vote rankings from several sources can help us see this.

One respected source of vote ratings is National Journal. Some Tiahrt supporters are using a chart of National Journal vote ratings on Facebook, showing their approval of Tiahrt’s performance in these ratings.

Tiahrt and Moran vote ratings from National Journal

The chart shows Tiahrt with a more conservative vote rating in years past, but converging to nearly identical values last year. The chart shows Moran moving in the more conservative direction, while Tiahrt, after three years of less-conservative ratings, moving to a more conservative rating.

National Journal produces three ratings for each legislator, based on votes on economic, social, and foreign policy issues. The number I plotted in the chart is the average of the three values for each year. In its own method of producing composite scores for 2009, National Journal gives Tiahrt a score of 85.3, and Moran gets 84.3.

In terms of where they rank in order, Tiahrt is the 54th most conservative voter, and Moran is the 64th.

For 2009, the average composite score for Republican members of the U.S. House was 79.4, ranging from 57.8 to 94. So while Tiahrt and Moran rank as more conservative than average, neither are anywhere near the top, in terms of conservative voting according to National Journal.

Other organizations produce vote ratings too, such as the American Conservative Union. In these ratings, Tiahrt and Moan have the same, or nearly same score in all years except 2007, when Tiahrt had a more conservative rating. For the period shown, Tiahrt’s average score is 92.5, and Moran’s is 91.3.

Tiahrt and Moran vote ratings from American Conservative Union

From Americans for Tax Reform, we find a mixed picture. For the period shown, the average rating for Tiahrt is 94.6, and for Moran, 90.3.

Tiahrt and Moran vote ratings from American for Tax Reform

Do these relatively small differences in vote ratings amount to a true distinction between the candidates? While Tiahrt generally earns the more conservative rating, the differences are so small that voters will want to make sure they take into account other factors when they decide who to support.

17 Comments

  • One thing the submitted graphs show is certain. Tiahrt has been the consistent conservative. If you look at 2009 ratings, they certainly have similarities but that is due to Moran’s election year conservatism. You are “catching” Tiahrt in the act of continuing doing what he has always done. Clearly, it is at best inaccurate for Moran to attempt to characterize himself as being “THE” conservative in this race.

    Furthermore, you left out ratings from Club for Growth.

  • A significant difference between the two is that Mr. Moran had no problem voting to tax executives at a 90+% in 2009 ( H R 1586) in reaction to their perceived excessive bonuses. His vote was in clear violation of our Constitution. Mr Tiahrt did not vote for this HR. Also this difference was evident with the vote on SCHIP, whose authorization is not found anywhere in our Constitution and for which Mr. Moran voted for which provides tax money for children of families who income is over $80,000.00.

  • Tiahrt has played games with the people’s monies. He has provided “earmarks” to many projects and individuals in this district. He sits on the Appropriations Committee in the
    United States House of Representatives, and he ranks abut NO. 50 of the 435 House members in earmark monies. Jerry Moran is about No. 415 or so. This is a key difference. Jack Abramoff, the crook with an organization known as PMA, would ask people like Tiahrt for “earmark” favors for his clients. If a client was given one, then there could be a campaign contribution “kickback” to an Appropriations Committee member. It can be considered to be a form of “buying” votes and political support. Abramoff called the committee the “favor factory.”

    As for the differences in the two candidates. Jerry Moran is the “real” Kansan; Tiahrt is not. Moran grew up in a small western Kansas town. Tiahrt’s time has been spent mostly in South Dakota and Missouri before he came to Wichita. Moran is, I think, better educated, and all of his education was in Kansas schools. Tiahrt’s education is Evangel College, an Assembly of God school in Springfield, MO, and Southwest Missouri, now Missouri State, in Springfield, MO. Moran has a good understanding of both business and agriculture in Kansas. Tiahrt knows little about rural Kansas and its problems. In spite of all of the talk, agriculture is still important to the Kansas economy. In addition, Moran has a more warm and outgoing personality, and there is nothing about Moran that leans to the sleazy side.

  • Ask Tiahrt some tough questions about government and the the history of the country. “Anonymous” should have mentioned that this is a “do or die” campaign for Tiahrt. His whole life is to be a professional politician. Jerry Moran views his campaign as a genuine “calling” to serve Kansans and not as a job drawing a nice salary in Washington, D.C. That is another trait of character that does not come out in the news stories about each of the candidate’s campaigns. Moran deserves to win because of the Kansan that he is.

  • I have known both Rep. Moran and Rep. Tiahrt. Rep. Tiahrt is getting my support. I know people who worked with both of these candidates in Topeka in the 1990s. Tiahrt was a state senator for two years while Moran had a much longer legislative career.

    I know that Rep. Moran voted to raise the statewide property tax in 1994. Rep. Tiahrt did not. This increase raised the statewide mill levy for public schools from 33 to 35 mills.

    There are more recent votes that are consistent with this trend, like the schip vote mentioned by another post. While either Rep. Moran or Tiahrt would be preferrable to whoever liberal the Democrats nominate, there are significant differences between these two candidates. I’ll be voting for Todd.

  • Rural kansas will vote for Moran because he actually visits small towns and knows what a wheat field looks like. Tiahrt is a good man, but is the product of Wichita.

  • Didn’t Tiahrt had a campaign treasurer that got a great deal on the purchase of some City property through Councilwoman Sue Schlapp? Didn’t Councilwoman Schlapp had a son by the name of Matt that worked for Tiahrt? Didn’t Tiahrt invite Democrat Mayor Brewer to cook barbecue at one of Tiahrt’s and Robert’s fund raising events? Too much drama for me…vote Moran!

  • bman and Ruben, you are exactly right. Schlapp was on our Tiahrt’s staff when he first went to Washington.

    Just this evening, I heard Blanche Lincoln, Democratic candidate for Senate in Arkansas, speak about the needs of Arkansas. Bill Clinton spoke at length, too, and he emphasized that Blanche Lincoln is the chairperson of the Senate agricultural committee. He went on to say, and I agree, that agriculture and small communities are the “backbone” of many of the smaller states. Let us elect Jerry Moran because I predict that he will be placed on the Senate agricultural committee. Bob Dole was the ranking member on the Senate agriculture whether the Republicans had the majority or not. Let us keep the seat in the “Bob Dole” tradition, which also means that the larger populated areas will also get their just due.

  • Councilwoman Schlapp is the one who protested to the Wichita Chamber of Commerce for inviting Jerry Moran to speak to the organization earlier this year. The Chamber was forced to cancel Moran’s appearance. The Tiahrt forces are desperate and afraid, are they not?

  • I think we should find a candidate that will work for Kansans. Moran and Thiart both are in favor of free trade which has destroyed our economy. So many Kansans are out of work thanks to Nafta, Cafta and other agreements. Our National deficit is growing trying to support all the Americans out of work. Our state and local governments are laying off, consolidating, closing schools, and it is only going to get worse as the tax payer roll continues to decrease. Get rid of both of them, and vote for a constitutionalist if we can find one. My job is in Mexico thanks to Tiahrt supporting Nafta. That was another back room sleazy deal like healthcare, full of bribes.

  • Yes, even back when Ross Perot was running, even though he had all those charts, he predicted exactly what is happening now due to the free trade agreements. He said that the trade agreements were for the corporations, and it looks like they are the only ones that have benefited with slave labor. Moram and Tiahrt are both career politicians.

  • Interesting article, Bob. Thanks for this data.

    I find it interesting that both of them were very conservative when they entered the DC arena. Then became less so as time went on. What is in the water in DC?

    Glad to see them both going back to their conservative roots. We will be watching whoever is elected: STAY conservative or we will boot you out!!!

  • This would have been a good year for a candidate without any prior political experience to run for office and all the way from United States Senate on down the line. People really are angry about what they think is the poor performance of government, and the anger is directed to the officeholders of
    the two major parties. Of course, we should be careful what we do when we are angry. Sometimes people are sorry about the decisions they make in a fit of anger. We have major problems ahead of us. We may yet have a recession within a recession or what some people call a depression.

  • I know what you’re getting at with the charts, Bob, but charting data that is as subjective as the opinions of voting record raters doesn’t provide valid premises on which to base decisions. I’d like to see some definitive, honest statements about these gentlemen’s values, their decision-making processes, some logical justifications for their actions, etc. The political wrangling amongst their sycophants and the heated, empty rhetoric is obscuring the information needed for rational decisions and the only way to get that info is some direct, fundamental questioning with no handlers, no editing, and in public.

  • Tiahrt: voted for amnesty, prescription drugs, and no child left behind. He also voted to keep us in the UN and voted against a resolution requiring us to declare war before sending out troops all over the world. Moran was on the other side of all these votes. I’m not saying he’s good (SCHIP in particular) but this tea party picture of Tiahrt is not reality at all. He’s John McCain.

    Too bad there’s not a good choice here…in OK they seem to have a lot of good options.

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