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The Return of the (Really) Conservative Democrat?

Boris Shor writes:

Alan Mollohan (D), who has represented West Virginia’s 1st District since 1983, was defeated in Tuesday’s Democratic primary by Mike Oliverio, a state legislator since 1993. . . . Oliverio is conservative. No, really, really super duper conservative. According to Wikipedia, he’s pro-life, and supports a state constitutional ban on gay marriage. . . . Exactly how conservative is he? Our [Boris Shor and Nolan McCarty’s] common space score for him is 0.25, which puts him into the 96th percentile of his party for conservatism in his state for the last decade or so. He’s about as conservative as the average WV state Republican, and more conservative than many of them.

If he wins the general election in November, he’d be replacing Mollohan, who scores a pretty liberal –0.5 [not far from the average for congressional Democrats]. . . . if Oliverio were to remain ideologically consistent (something I [Boris] consider very likely for all “graduating” state legislators), he’d be more conservative than the sole Republican in the state delegation to Congress, Shelley Capito. He’d be more conservative than a bunch of other Republicans, too. He’d be far more conservative than the most conservative Democrat in Congress, Idaho’s Walt Minnick, who voted against health care reform, the stimulus, and the Waxman-Markey environment bill.

That’d be amazing. Remember, in our polarized times, no Republican in Congress is to the left of any Democrat (and, vice versa, no Democrat is to the right of any Republican). If elected to Congress, Oliverio could be the first conservative Democrat in a long time to make at least some Republicans look liberal.

To translate this into the language of sabermetrics, Boris is echoing Bill James in saying that minor-league stats are highly predictive of major-league performance. And he seems to have been right about Scott Brown.