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Republican Women in US House Record Lowest Conservative Voting Scores Since 2005

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The 24 female House GOPers in 2012 tally an average conservative composite score of 72.5 in National Journal's annual rankings, falling two years in a row after peaking at 80 in 2010

marshablackburn10.jpgThe 32nd installment of National Journal's ideological vote ratings for members of Congress is out, and with it the expected buzz as to which members of the two chambers ranked as the most conservative and most liberal over the past year.

And while the 112th Congress may be known as one of the most conservative in recent history with the tea party helping the GOP take back control of the House in 2010, a certain bloc of Republican House voters during each of the last two years has drifted closer to the center, at least relative to the chamber overall.

Republican women.

A Smart Politics analysis of 2012 National Journal congressional vote ratings finds that Republican women in the U.S. House registered their lowest composite conservative voting score since 2005.

(Note: National Journal vote rankings do not measure absolute changes in liberalism or conservatism - only the relative change from one representative (or, in this case, a group of representatives) to another on a 100-point scale. The publication explains its methodology and data limitations here).

In 2012, the 24 female Republicans serving in the House of Representatives averaged a composite conservative ranking of 72.5.

That means female GOPers in the House voted more conservatively than 72.5 percent of the body as a whole across foreign, social, and economic policy legislation.

This marks a drop in the composite conservative ranking among Republican women for the second consecutive year.

Republican women peaked with a composite conservative score of 80.0 in 2010, led by former Ohio Representative Jean Schmidt of Ohio at #6.

During that year, all-time high water marks for GOP women on the conservative scale were set on foreign policy (78.5) and economic policy (78.3).

Women voted the most conservatively compared to their peers on social policy issues in 2009, registering a 76.0 score collectively.

But after the election of 2010, perhaps due to a much larger influx of (more conservative) tea party men into the House, the composite conservative score for Republican women fell sharply to 73.6 and then again to 72.5 in 2012.

This is just the fourth time Republican women in the lower legislative chamber have seen a decline in their collective conservative composite scores in back-to-back years, also doing so in 1984 & 1985, 1987 & 1988, and 1998 & 1999.

The 72.5 composite score recorded in 2012 is the lowest since 2005 when the 23 Republican women in the House that year scored a 70.9.

That was followed by a 72.8 rating in 2006, 74.1 in 2007, 74.9 in 2008, 77.4 in 2009, and 80.0 in 2010.

And who were the most conservative women in the House last year?

In 2012, Marsha Blackburn (TN-07) once again had the highest conservative ranking for House GOP women at #3 overall - voting more conservatively than 96.5 percent of her colleagues in the chamber.

Blackburn also notched the top conservative ranking among women in 2009 (#7) and 2011 (#1).

Other Republican women ranking in the Top 50 in 2012 are Lynn Jenkins (KS-02) at #22, Diane Black (TN-06) at #25, the recently retired Sue Myrick (NC-09) at #32, the recently defeated Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25) at #34, and Renee Elmers (NC-02) at #43.

Overall, the 24 GOP women in 2012 had an average conservative ranking of 116.9 - the least conservative mark since 2005 when their average ranking was 127.4.

The peak collective conservative ranking for Republican women in House was also in 2010, at 83.2.

Although the Republican women of the 112th Congress voted less conservatively as a bloc in relation to their peers than the women of the 110th and 111th Congresses, GOP women in the House have decidedly become increasingly conservative vis-à-vis their peers over the decades:

· From 1981 to 1990, voting more conservative than 61.1 percent of the House.

· From 1991 to 2000, voting more conservative than 65.0 percent of the House.

· From 2001 to 2010, voting more conservative than 72.4 percent of the House.

· From 2011 to 2012, voting more conservative than 73.1 percent of the House.

Female Republican U.S. Representative Conservatism Ratings by Issue by 10-Year Periods

Years
Economic
Social
Foreign
Composite
1981-1990
67.4
55.6
56.2
61.1
1991-2000
66.2
57.2
65.1
65.0
2001-2010
72.5
68.2
70.8
72.4
2011-2012
70.9
69.3
72.8
73.1
National Journal vote data compiled by Smart Politics. Data indicates the percentage of Representatives of which female GOPers are more conservative by issue.

The biggest jump across the decades for GOP women has been in foreign policy, rising from scores in the mid- to high 40s in 1981 and 1982 to consistently in the 70s since 2008.

And what happened to these 24 Republican women in the House in the 2012 election cycle?

· One retired: Sue Myrick (NC-09).

· Two lost their renomination bids in GOP primaries: Sandy Adams (FL-24, redistricted into FL-07) and Jean Schmidt (OH-02).

· Four were defeated in the general election: Mary Bono Mack (CA-45, redistricted into CA-36), Judy Biggert (IL-13, redistricted into IL-11), Nan Hayworth (NY-19, redistricted into NY-18), and Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25, redistricted into NY-24).

· 17 won reelection: Michele Bachmann (MN-06), Diane Black (TN-06), Marsha Blackburn (TN-07), Shelley Moore Capito (WV-02), Renee Ellmers (NC-02), Jo Ann Emerson (MO-08), Virginia Foxx (NC-05), Kay Granger (TX-12), Vicky Hartzler (MO-04), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), Lynn Jenkins (KS-02), Cynthia Lummis (WY-AL), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Candice Miller (MI-10), Kristi Noem (SD-AL), Marsha Roby (AL-02), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27, redistricted from FL-18).

In the 113th Congress, the 17 aforementioned female GOPers were joined by newcomers Susan Brooks (IN-05), Ann Wagner (MO-02), and Jackie Walorski (IN-02).

Female Republican U.S. Representative Conservatism Ratings by Issue, 1981-2012

Year
Economic
Social
Foreign
Composite
# Women
1981
65.5
51.1
45.1
54.9
10
1982
58.3
49.7
48.6
53.4
10
1983
75.0
58.3
57.7
65.1
9
1984
67.6
59.1
58.4
63.5
9
1985
70.5
51.1
57.9
62.6
11
1986
73.5
59.8
61.0
66.8
11
1987
66.8
60.9
58.3
63.0
11
1988
64.0
54.2
57.3
59.2
11
1989
67.3
53.5
58.3
60.8
12
1990
65.2
57.8
59.3
61.8
13
1991
66.3
58.8
61.8
63.3
9
1992
70.7
57.2
60.9
65.1
9
1993
58.8
50.2
61.7
59.0
12
1994
66.5
62.3
67.6
67.0
12
1995
64.2
56.9
68.0
67.6
17
1996
66.2
53.2
66.6
65.2
17
1997
66.9
60.2
68.0
66.9
16
1998
64.2
61.7
68.2
66.0
17
1999
69.1
56.5
63.0
64.5
17
2000
69.4
54.9
65.3
65.3
17
2001
67.6
57.6
69.2
66.8
18
2002
68.9
57.1
66.4
66.9
18
2003
72.4
66.4
70.5
71.5
21
2004
68.5
66.3
68.4
68.7
21
2005
72.3
68.0
68.7
70.9
23
2006
69.1
71.1
74.3
72.8
25
2007
75.6
72.1
66.8
74.1
21
2008
74.4
71.5
75.0
74.9
20
2009
77.8
76.0
70.2
77.4
17
2010
78.3
75.5
78.5
80.0
17
2011
70.7
68.2
73.5
73.6
24
2012
71.0
70.3
72.1
72.5
24
National Journal vote data compiled by Smart Politics. Data indicates the percentage of Representatives of which female Republicans are more conservative by issue.

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