Is It Really Any Surprise?


Is it really any surprise that Sen. Olympia Snowe announced that she will vote for the health reform bill in the Senate Finance Committee? Last month, we did a vote analysis for the senior Maine senator and found that she is far more likely to vote with Democrats than her fellow Republicans. Despite her party affiliation, Snowe appears to have a voting record you would expect from a moderate to conservative Democrat. Her voting record shows that she is a much more reliable vote for the Democratic majority than her public Hamlet routine would suggest. You can see the visualization here and follow below.

Of the top twenty senators with the highest percentage of votes in common with Sen. Snowe, eighteen are Democrats, most of which are commonly identified as the most moderate Democrats in the caucus. Snowe holds a 70%+ vote correlation with thirteen senators, two of which are Republicans. The top twenty senators with votes in common with Olympia Snowe are:

  • Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME (86.92%)
  • Sen. Ben Nelson, D-NE (78.46%)
  • Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-AR (77.69%)
  • Sen. Arlen Specter, D-PA (74.42%)
  • Sen. Jon Tester, D-MT (74.03)
  • Sen. Evan Bayh, D-IN (72.87%)
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN (72.66%)
  • Sen. Mark Pryor, D-AR (71.81%)
  • Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-ND (71.48%)
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-AK (71.15%)
  • Sen. Max Baucus, D-MT (71.04%)
  • Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL (70.27%)
  • Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-LA (70.16%)
  • Sen. Herb Kohl, D-WI (69.62%)
  • Sen. Mark Begich, D-AK (69.44%)
  • Sen. Kent Conrad, D-ND (68.83%)
  • Sen. Michael Bennet, D-CO (68.80%)
  • Sen. Kay Hagan, D-NC (68.60%)
  • Sen. Robert Byrd, D-WV (68.31%)
  • Sen. Tim Johnson, D-SD (68.00%)

When we first published this analysis back in September, I wrote:

The Democrats with the highest voting agreement with Snowe are also seen as key votes in the health care reform push. Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Sen. Blanche Lincoln hold the two highest voting agreements with Snowe. Both are seen as key votes on any health reform bill and Nelson, in particular, has been a key player in all major legislation this year. Nelson was instrumental in passing the stimulus bill earlier this year and has recently echoed Snowe in her support for a public option trigger in the health care reform legislation. Lincoln is seen as one of the more conservative Democratic senators and faces a tough reelection campaign in one of the few states that trended away from the Democrats in the 2008 election. Her vote will be crucial to Democrats on health care reform and her high level of voting agreement with Snowe shows how crucial the Maine Republican’s support for a bill may be.