The conclusion reached by our sister publication National Journal that Barack Obama is the most liberal Senator yesterday is sure to get a lot of play down the road if Obama wins the nomination:

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I've always been skeptical, though, of these sort of subjective assessments. An interest group ranking can be interesting because it tells you what's important to the interest group. But for a global assessment, I like the Poole/Rosenthal optimal classification method that uses math to look at all votes and sort the members of congress. They say that Obama is the eleventh most liberal member
of the 110th Senate whereas Clinton is the 20th most liberal. In the 109th Senate, Obama was 21st and Clinton was 25th. Obama's inexperienced, so he wasn't in the 108th Senate but Clinton was tied for 21.5th place, and in the 107th Senate she was 22nd. Basically, Clinton has a very typical voting record for a Democrat, and Obama seems to be a bit more liberal, but not as far left as a Russ Feingold or a Barbara Boxer.

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