VoteView has provided the following graph of how much to the right or left all the presidents since World War II are:
This is interesting in that it shows very clearly that Obama is the most conservative Democratic president in the post-war period. But it also goes against my often stated contention that Democrats are now more conservative than Republicans of the past.
Does this graph make me rethink my position? Definitely. However, it isn’t clear exactly what the graph means. I checked out VoteView’s website in some depth and did not find the details of their process.
Here’s my question: are policy positions based upon the existing (at the time) political range? I suspect that VoteView would say it is not. However, there are problems with this contention, even if VoteView made it—and I don’t know that they would. Certainly, Reagan was generally a bigger proponent of tax cuts than Obama, even though—as a practical matter—Obama has cut taxes more than any president. Obama wants to raise the top tax bracket to 39% while Reagan lowered the top tax bracket to 50%. I suspect that VoteView would see this as Reagan being more conservative on taxes than Obama, even though the net practical effect is that Obama’s top tax rate would be 11% lower than Reagan’s.
So I think this is still an open question, and I’m open to whatever the evidence indicates. Regardless, the graph clearly puts the lie to the conservative talking point that Obama is some kind of radical socialists.