The Shutdown: Boehner vs. Gingrich

Below we use DW-NOMINATE scores to compare the ideological makeup of the House Republican Caucus under Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) during the 1995/1996 government shutdown and the current one headed by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Thad Hall has also compared the two groups at the Mischiefs of Faction blog

In this post we highlight the movement of the 80% ideological range of House Republicans from 1995 to 2013. Even over an 18-year period, there has been so much movement of both the 10th and 90th conservative percentile House Republicans away from the center that the current 10th percentile Republican would have been near the median Republican in the 104th Congress during the last protracted shutdown.

Despite criticism from Tea Party Republicans, Speaker Boehner himself—though near the center of the current House Republican Caucus—would have been further right of the 90th percentile Republican in 1995.

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Update 15 October 2013: We have also used DW-NOMINATE Common Space scores to plot a smoothed histogram of the ideological (first-dimension) scores of House Republicans in the 104th Congress and the (present) 113th Congress. We highlight the positions of the Republican leadership (Speaker, Leader, and Whip) in each Congress to illustrate that the current leaders are near or to the left of the median Republican in the 113th House.

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