A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

McCain Votes with Bush?


Q: Is it true John McCain voted with George Bush 95 percent of the time?

A: Yes, it’s true, according to Congressional Quarterly’s assessment of McCain’s voting record.

FULL QUESTION

The Obama campaign keeps claiming McCain has voted with President Bush 95 percent of the time. Is this true? Is this significant?

FULL ANSWER

Sen. Barack Obama has attempted to use the Arizona senator’s voting record against him in statements like this:

Barack Obama (June 3): It’s not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush 95 percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year.

The claim is true. According to Congressional Quarterly’s Voting Studies, in 2007 McCain voted in line with the president’s position 95 percent of the time – the highest percentage rate for McCain since Bush took office – and voted in line with his party 90 percent of the time. However, McCain’s support of President Bush’s position has been as low as 77 percent (in 2005), and his support for his party’s position has been as low as 67 percent (2001).

Democrats are, of course, attempting to make the case that a vote for McCain is a vote to continue the policies of Bush, whose approval ratings are, to put it charitably, not a political asset for McCain.

Is 95% "Significant"?
 
As for whether voting with Bush 95 percent of the time last year is "significant," that’s a matter of opinion that we leave to readers to determine for themselves.

When doing so, they may wish to consider that Obama’s votes were in line with the president’s position 40 percent of the time in 2007. That shouldn’t be terribly surprising. Even the Senate’s Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, voted with Bush 39 percent of the time last year, according to the way Congressional Quarterly rates the votes.

The McCain campaign points out that Obama told a local TV interviewer recently that "the only bills that I voted for, for the most part, since I’ve been in the Senate were introduced by Republicans with George Bush." Obama was actually wrong about that. In 2006 he voted alongside the president 49 percent of the time, and in 2005, the year before Democrats took control of the Senate, Obama voted with the president only 33 percent of the time.

Also, Obama voted in line with fellow Senate Democrats 97 percent of the time in 2007 and 2005, and 96 percent of the time in 2006, according to CQ.

And so . . .
 

So to sum up, McCain has indeed voted to support the unpopular Bush 95 percent of the time most recently, but less so in earlier years. And Obama has voted pretty close to 100 percent in line with fellow Democrats during his brief Senate career.

– Emi Kolawole

Sources

CQ member Profiles: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz). 1 Apr. 2007.

 
Congressional Quarterly, 9 June 2008. CQ member Profiles: Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill). February 2008.
 
Congressional Quarterly, 12 June 2008. CQ member Profiles: Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev). February 2008.
 
Congressional Quarterly, 12 June 2008.