How Conservative Is McCain's Senate Record?

By Bruce Sullivan | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

( -Senator John McCain's voting record in the US Senate shows that he is definitely not its most conservative member. However, according to the Almanac of American Politics, the Arizona Republican, who now occupies the seat once held by conservative icon Barry Goldwater, can by no means be considered a liberal.

"Mr. McCain is a conservative. Period," said former Family Research Council director Gary Bauer, who recently withdrew from the GOP presidential race and is now backing McCain.

"Mr. McCain has a 17-year record of support in both the Senate and the Congress for pro-family, pro-life conservative ideals," wrote Bauer in a recent opinion article in the Washington Times.

Averaged over the last 12 years, McCain's conservative rating by the National Journal, which publishes the almanac yearly, is a 74 on social issues - much higher than all of his Democratic colleagues and slightly greater than a number of his fellow Republican senators, including Bob Bennett of Utah, Pete Domenici of New Mexico, Slade Gorton of Washington, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and John Warner of Virginia.

The National Journal describes its rating system as "an objective method" of analyzing congressional voting.

On economic issues, McCain's 71 average National Journal rating beats, or ties, Domenici, Gorton, Gregg, Warner, and Specter plus Wayne Allard of Oregon and Chris Bond of Missouri.

McCain's weakest conservative credentials appear to be in foreign policy where the National Journal gives him a 61 average conservative rating - lower than all of his GOP colleagues except Specter.