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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

A Narrow View of Barrow’s Record

A Republican campaign group uses selective evidence to support a Georgia mother’s claim in a TV ad that Rep. John Barrow “votes with Barack Obama on every issue that’s important to us here in Georgia.”

Immediately after that claim is made, a graphic in the ad says Barrow “voted with Obama 85% of the time.” That was the case in 2009, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Quarterly. However, that simply ignores the fact that Barrow’s support of President Obama’s position has significantly decreased since then.

According to CQ, Barrow supported Obama’s position just 35 percent of the time in 2013, and his support of Obama’s position was as low as 29.5 percent in 2012.

The TV ad, called “Barrow’s Record,” began airing in Augusta and Savannah on Aug. 15. It’s being paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

In the ad, Amy Parris of Augusta says, “John Barrow votes with Barack Obama on every issue that’s important to us here in Georgia. He gets wrapped up in the politics of Washington and forgets about the constituents back home.” As she speaks a graphic on screen says, “John Barrow voted with Obama 85% of the time.”

That statistic was the case in 2009, according to a Congressional Quarterly analysis of congressional votes. And the ad dutifully notes that in the small print. But Barrow hasn’t been nearly as supportive of Obama since 2010.

Each year, CQ analyzes how members of Congress vote with the president when his position is clearly known. For example, in 2009, there were 991 House votes, but only 72 where Obama took a clear position, according to CQ’s study.

CQ found that Barrow, who has represented Georgia’s 12th Congressional District since 2005, voted in support of Obama’s position 85 percent of the time that year and 83 percent in 2010. Yet Barrow’s support of Obama has dropped sharply since.


In 2011, Barrow’s support of Obama fell to 59.5 percent. Then, in 2012, Barrow supported Obama’s position just 29.5 percent of the time. Only two other House Democrats opposed Obama more in 2012 than Barrow. And in 2013, Barrow voted with the president 35 percent of the time, again placing him third among House Democrats who supported Obama least often. In fact, Barrow, according to CQ, was more supportive of President George W. Bush in 2005 and 2006 than he was of Obama in 2012 and 2013.

The NRCC says its ad highlights Barrow’s “consistent votes with President Obama to increase government spending and cause Georgia families to pay the price.” The ad doesn’t cite any specific votes. But when asked for examples of Barrow votes to increase spending, an NRCC spokeswoman pointed us to only one, a vote he cast in 2009 in favor of the $830 billion economic stimulus bill, otherwise known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Barrow, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition of “fiscally conservative” House Democrats, is being challenged by Republican businessman Rick Allen in the general election.

— D’Angelo Gore