Just how conservative is Tennessee?

conservative republican tennessee imageBy Zachary Toillion

Tennessee has voted solidly for Republican candidates in elections across the board. Mitt Romney and John McCain won the state in the last two presidential elections, and President George W. Bush won the state twice. The state has had two Republican senators since 1994, and has elected a majority of Republicans to the House in their congressional delegation.

In the state legislature, 74 percent of elected officials are Republicans. The ideological makeup of the Tennessee congressional delegation is a nearly identical 77 percent Republican. Republicans hold 80 percent of statewide office positions including governor, lieutenant governor, and secretary of state.

The Republicans elected to serve in the legislature are squarely in the mainstream of the Republican party. Sen. Bob Corker has voted the conservative position on legislation 83 percent of the time according to the American Conservative Union, an advocacy group that promotes conservative policies, while Sen. Lamar Alexander rated 76 percent in the same survey. The National Journal, a longtime political analysis magazine, calculated that the Tennessee congressional delegation voted the conservative position on legislation 71 percent of the the time, according to their voting records.

Several other states are farther to the right of Tennessee on the political spectrum in the same surveys-Mississippi, Texas, and Utah are just a few examples. Tennessee’s conservative rankings put it in the ideological mainstream of the Republican party. In all of Congress, the average elected Republican legislator received a conservative rating of 77 percent, according to the American Conservative Union.

Tennessee’s ideological makeup makes it a state that serves as a barometer for the Republican party as a whole. It is, in a sense the perfect laboratory for a Republican to get a sense of the national party, something that potential 2016 candidates may well take note of.

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