According to a new study by the non-partisan Congressional Quarterly, the congressman who supported President Obama’s position most in the nation in the first half of this year was metro-south Democrat Russ Carnahan, with a 100% presidential support rating.
House Democrats as a whole were pretty much in lock step in their support for Obama, with a 98% rating, but Carnahan still topped them. All other Missouri representatives were below the median, including the state’s two African-American congressmen. Metro-north Democrat Lacy Clay and Kansas City Democrat Emanuel Cleaver both had 96% presidential support ratings. Metro-east Democrat Jerry Costello, a product of the metro-east Democratic machine, was relatively independent, with a presidential support ratio of “only” 84%.
In the senate, self-proclaimed “maverick” Democrat Claire McCaskill had a 96% presidential support rating, the same as Clay and Cleaver in the House. When she defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Talent in 2006, she had criticized his lack of independence as demonstrated by a presidential support index of just 93%.
The median for senate Democrats the first half of this year was 94% presidential support.
In a separate CQ measurement of party unity (voting with one’s own party in 255 roll call votes that pitted most House Democrats against most Republicans), Carnahan topped Missouri Democrats with 99%. St. Louis County Republican Todd Akin was equally as partisan the other way, with his own 99% party unity rating. Costello and all Missouri representatives scored 94% or higher on party unity with one exception. The maverick was Cape Girardeau Republican JoAnn Emerson, whose unity rating was just 79%. While she supported Obama 54% of the time, she did come through to vote against Obama’s job-killing cap-and-trade bill.
These ratings could have an impact on the 2010 contest for Missouri’s open U.S. Senate seat. Announced Republican candidate, Rep. Roy Blunt, has a predictably low 36% presidential support rating and a relatively low 94% party unity rating. Announced Democratic candidate Robin Carnahan has no legislative record to defend, but voters may attribute brother Russ’ “rubberstamp” numbers to her. If Robin Carnahan wishes to appear more independent, she will have to dissassociate herself from her own brother’s voting record.
Update: For all of 2009, Prince Russ finished with 99% presidential support, tying him for 5th (out of 435) with Jesse Jackson, Jr. and 8 others (and tied for 1st among congressmen not representing the Peoples Republic of California). He toed Obama’s line even more than both the majority leader and majority whip, and as much or more than every member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Carnahan’s party unity rating held firm at 99% for the whole year, highest in the Missouri delegation (either party). Speaker Pelosi noted this last October when in St. Louis for a Carnahan fundraiser, observing that Prince Russ was “not high maintenance.” He does what he’s told, without any pesky questions.