I am a numbers guy. So I resonate to Steve Benen's numerical description of Pence.
About four years ago at this time, Nate Silver published an interesting analysis of Paul Ryan, who’d just been named to Mitt Romney’s ticket. Nate wrote at the time, “Various statistical measures of Mr. Ryan peg him as being quite conservative. Based on his Congressional voting record, for instance, the statistical system DW-Nominate evaluates him as being roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. By this measure, in fact, which rates members of the House and Senate throughout different time periods on a common ideology scale, Mr. Ryan is the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900.”
Nate added a chart, highlighting the fact that Ryan’s record put him slightly to the right of Dick Cheney, who was slightly to the right of Dan Quayle.
Benen goes on to document the fact that Pence has taken the lead over Ryan when it comes to being the most right-wing candidate for VP.
But before Pence became governor, he was an accomplished member of Congress – which means we can turn to the same DW-Nominate statistical system to get a better sense of the Indiana Republican’s ideology. And the data shows puts Pence well to Ryan’s right.
In the 107th Congress (Pence’s first, covering 2001 and 2002), for example, out of 435 members of the U.S. House, Pence ranked #428 – meaning that 427 members were to his left, putting the Hoosier on the far-right-wing fringe. The results were roughly the same in the 108th Congress and the 109th.
By the 110th Congress, Pence was at #432, putting him to the right of nearly everyone in the chamber. The results were roughly the same in the 111th Congress and the 112th.
Let’s put this another way: during his congressional career, Pence wasn’t just more conservative than Paul Ryan. His voting record also put him to the right of Michele Bachmann, Todd Akin, Steve King, and even Louie Gohmert. That’s not an exaggeration. Bachmann, Akin, King, and Gohmert all had voting records less extreme than Mike Pence.
Indeed, the Indiana Republican developed a reputation on Capitol Hill as an ineffective extremist who, despite 12 years in Congress, was literally never the chief sponsor of a bill that passed into law.
Now, Donald Trump wants to put him one heartbeat from the presidency.
And all those fellow travelers in the far-right-wing fringe like Paul Ryan are agreed that this is a good thing for America.