The Most Conservative Congress Ever Recorded

In the last few weeks, ThinkProgress has been documenting studies by political science professors Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal that show Republicans are both beholden to the 1 percent and responsible for the hyper-polarization of Congress. A new study by Poole has found that Republicans have moved so far to the right that the House is now the most conservative it has even been in the last 133 years.

Note on the graph: The closer to 1.0, the more conservative the party’s votes were that year. The black line in the middle represents the median location of the overall chamber.

Poole’s graph shows that when the Republican Party gained a majority in 2010, they brought the median of the House into a realm of ideological extremism not seen before. For comparison, when the Democratic Party held a majority from 2006 to 2010, the House median made a small move to the left (-0.2) — equal to the level of a moderate Democrat. But when the Republican Party took over in 2010, the House median more than tripled (.43) along the ideological scale.

Considering approval ratings for Congress are hovering around 11% — lower ratings than the IRS, lawyers, and even Nixon during Watergate — a recent poll shows that Americans still disapprove of congressional Republicans more than Democrats. In fact, under Democratic majorities the House median hasn’t passed the level equal to a moderate Democrat (-0.2) in the last 100 years. Meanwhile, just in the last 20 years alone, the House median under Republican control has been above that moderate level on the conservative side (0.2) for approximately 10 years.