Analysis: Ranking the 2021 Texas House and Senate from right to left
After three special legislative sessions, I’ve updated the 2021 regular legislative session ideological rankings for the Texas House and the Texas Senate published in June. These rankings across the ideological spectrum are based on roll-call votes in the regular and special sessions held this year.
The 82 Republican members of the Texas House reflect a wide range of ideological positions. Republican Speaker Dade Phelen of Beaumont, by custom, doesn’t ordinarily vote and is not included in this analysis, nor is Brian Harrison of Midlothian, who didn’t take office until the end of the third special session.
Briscoe Cain of Deer Park, Cody Vasut of Angleton, Steve Toth of The Woodlands, Matt Krause of Fort Worth, Jared Patterson of Frisco and Bryan Slaton of Royse City anchor the most conservative end of spectrum.
Lyle Larson of San Antonio, Dan Huberty of Houston, Kyle Kacal of College Station, Morgan Meyer of Dallas, J.M. Lozano of Kingsville and Jim Murphy of Houston were at the other end of the Republican ideological spectrum in the House this year.
Dustin Burrows of Lubbock and David Spiller of Jacksboro are at the absolute center of the 82-member 2021 House Republican delegation.
The 67 Democratic House members also reflect a diverse array of ideological worldviews — all of them to the left of all of their Republican colleagues.
Jasmine Crockett of Dallas, Michelle Beckley of Carrollton, Ana-Maria Ramos of Richardson, Toni Rose of Dallas, Gina Hinojosa of Austin and Jessica González of Dallas anchor the most liberal end of the Democratic spectrum.
Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City, Richard Peña Raymond of Laredo, Terry Canales of Edinburg, Tracy King of Batesville, Abel Herrero of Robstown and Eddie Morales Jr. of Eagle Pass (all from South Texas) anchor the other end. Of the 16 least liberal Democrats, 12 are from South Texas, three are from San Antonio and one is from Houston.
Alma Allen of Houston is the median Texas House Democrat, representing the absolute center of the 67-member delegation in 2021.
The 18 Republican senators fall into three general groups on the ideological spectrum.
At the most conservative end are four senators: Bryan Hughes of Mineola, Drew Springer of Muenster, Brandon Creighton of Conroe and Bob Hall of Edgewood. Within this conservative quartet, however, no senator is significantly more or less conservative than another.
A single senator, Kel Seliger of Amarillo, sits at the other end of the GOP spectrum. His score is significantly less conservative than any of his 17 fellow Republicans.
The remaining 13 Republicans fall into a middle group in which Brian Birdwell of Granbury is at the more conservative end and Larry Taylor of Friendswood is at the other end.
Angela Paxton of McKinney and Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills are at the absolute center of the 18-member 2021 Senate Republican delegation.
The 13 Democratic senators also fall into three general groups in regard to their location on the ideological spectrum.
Sarah Eckhardt of Austin sits at the most liberal end of the Democratic ideological continuum. Eckhardt’s voting score is significantly more liberal than any of her 12 fellow Democrats.
At the other end are two South Texas senators, Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville and Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa of McAllen. Both are significantly less liberal than any of their 11 Democratic colleagues, and Lucio is also significantly more conservative than Hinojosa.
The middle group of 10 Democrats has Borris Miles of Houston on the most liberal end and Beverly Powell of Burleson on the most conservative end. The scores of almost all of these senators overlap, indicating none is more or less liberal than the others.
César Blanco of El Paso is the median Texas Senate Democrat, representing the absolute center of the 13-member delegation in 2021.
Political scientists have for decades used roll-call votes cast by members of Congress to plot them on the Liberal-Conservative dimension along which most legislative politics now take place.
These rankings of the Texas House and of the Texas Senate do the same. The House analysis and Senate analysis are respectively based on the 1,784 and 1,397 non-lopsided roll call votes taken during the 2021 regular legislative session and three special legislative sessions through October.
The legislators are ranked from most liberal to most conservative based on their Liberal-Conservative Score, or Lib-Con Score, with the 95% credible interval for this point estimate also provided. If two legislators’ credible intervals overlap, their positions on the ideological spectrum might be statistically equivalent, even if their Lib-Con Scores are different. The Lib-Con Scores are chamber specific and are therefore not directly comparable.
In no case in 2021 did the credible interval of a Republican legislator in either the House or Senate overlap with that of a Democratic legislator, indicating that in each chamber, every Republican is significantly more conservative than every Democrat, and every Democrat is significantly more liberal than every Republican.
Mark P. Jones is a political science fellow at Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.
Disclosure: Rice University has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2021/11/03/texas-house-senate-right-left/.
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