Contrary to popular belief (read: Fox News), President Obama isn’t all that liberal. In fact, he’s most aligned with former Senator, and great man, Tom Daschle. Why does President Obama seem so liberal? Well, to those that think, he doesn’t. But, to others, he seems so liberal because the right wing has become so radically conservative. Keith Poole at Voteview explains:
We find that President Obama is the most ideologically moderate Democratic president in the post-war period, with a first dimension DW-NOMINATE Common Space score of -0.329. President Lyndon Johnson, the second-most moderate Democratic president in this period, has a score of -0.345. President Obama’s ideological position is estimated from his “votes” (statements of support or opposition) on 282 congressional roll call votes. This amount is somewhat low; for example, President George W. Bush “voted” 453 times during his last term in office. However, it is adequate to recover his latent ideological score.
Among members of the 112th Congress, President Obama is ideologically closest to Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), whose score is -0.328. President Obama is also proximate to Senators Bob Casey (D-PA, -0.332), Kent Conrad (D-ND, -0.326), the recently deceased Daniel Inouye (D-HI, -0.331), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH, -0.317). Among Democratic Congressional leaders, President Obama is to the left of Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV, -0.304), and to the right of House Minority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD, -0.395), Senate Majority Whip Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL, -0.401), and House Majority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, -0.530). Interestingly, President Obama has a nearly identical score to former Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Tim Daschle (D-SD, -0.328), whom President Obama had initially nominated for Secretary of Health and Human Services after controversy over unpaid taxes.
The graph provided is the best summary of modern presidents and their liberal or conservative stance:
As you can clearly see, President Carter was the most liberal and President Obama is actually the most conservative Democratic President since World War II. Why does he seem so liberal? Look again at the graph. The most conservative Republican president since World War II is President George W. Bush, President Obama’s predecessor. Americans have a short memory so, even though President Bush was highly conservative, he was in the White House for eight years so we became used to his highly conservative policies. As a result, any subsequent liberal president would have seemed extremely liberal because of the previous eight years we endured.