Massachusetts Legislature Ranks Most Liberals Nationwide, According to Conservative Groups

Massachusetts lawmakers are the most liberal in the country. At least that’s what two national conservative organizations, the American Conservative Union Foundation and the Conservative Political Action Conference, say in an analysis released Thursday.

Only 16% of votes cast by Massachusetts state lawmakers in 2020 aligned with conservative positions on issues such as raising corporate taxes and access to abortion, they found. , among the 43 states assessed. The groups compared the voting records of more than 8,000 nationally elected officials in 186 policy areas.

Matt Schlapp, president of CPAC, said the goal of the ranking is to increase transparency of the legislative process for voters. Florida and Louisiana were ranked as the most conservative while Hawaii and Vermont joined Massachusetts as the most liberal.

“Obviously, people who think government should be forced and should spend less, and should play a smaller role in our lives, think this is a bad trend for the state of Massachusetts,” Schlapp said. .

But Jesse Rhodes, a political science professor at UMass Amherst, says it’s no surprise that the state legislature is seen as the most liberal. What the investigation failed to take into account, he said, were the positions of those who live in the states of legislatures.

“Whenever an organization, whether conservative or liberal, publishes a ranking of states or state legislators, the rankings generally reflect the priorities of the organization doing the ranking. And there aren’t always a lot of nuances about how the behavior of lawmakers relates to the preferences of their constituents, ”Rhodes said. “This is really the critical relationship that we should care about if we care about democracy.”

Massachusetts residents received a similar honor in their legislature in 2018, when a Gallup poll found them the most liberal in the country.

Rhodes has heard anecdotes from conservative residents unhappy with their lack of representation, particularly from the Massachusetts congressional delegation, in his work as associate director of the UMass Amherst poll. Yet overall, he said, residents consider the state legislature to work better than the federal government or Congress.

Others say Massachusetts lawmakers are not liberal enough. Jonathan Cohn, chairman of the Progressive Massachusetts issues committee, disagreed with the ranking. The Commonwealth has a high number of Democratic lawmakers, he said, but the legislation they pass is not as progressive as that of states like California or New York. He believes Massachusetts is behind on major progressive laws, like same-day voter registration and allowing undocumented migrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

“My initial thought on Massachusetts being ranked as the most liberal in the country is – I hope so,” Cohn said.

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