Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) made headlines
last month when he inexplicably flip-flopped on his status as a "maverick," even though the outsider label was a key element of his 2008 presidential campaign.
"I never considered myself a maverick," McCain told Newsweek
A newly published academic paper determines that, whether he considered himself one or not, McCain was indeed a maverick during much of his Senate career -- but he hasn't been one lately (see graph).
Ben Lauderdale, a Ph.D. student in Princeton's Department of Politics, told The Washington Independent
he defines mavericks on Capitol Hill as members who vote "less on the basis of the political dimension that predicts all legislators' behavior and more on particularistic factors unique to themselves."
In non-academic terms, a maverick is ready to break ranks at any time and for a variety of reasons, and his or her voting behavior is much less likely to follow party lines.
Using that definition, Lauderdale employed a statistical analysis to plot the overall "maverick score" of various members of Congress.
For the current Senate, McCain isn't even in the top ten:
- Russ Feingold (D-Wis.)
- Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)
- Evan Bayh (D-Ind.)
- Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
- Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)
- Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.)
- Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
- George Voinovich (R-Ohio)
- Kit Bond (R-Mo.)
- Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)
The top ten mavericks in the House, according to Lauderdale:
- Ron Paul (R-Tex.)
- Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)
- Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.)
- Bobby Bright (D-Ala.)
- Ron Kind (D-Wis.)
- Tim Johnson (R-Ill.)
- Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)
- Walt Minnick (D-Idaho)
- Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.)
- Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)
Read the full Lauderdale paper here