Maverick No More: Sen. McCain Now Tied For Most Conservative U.S. Senator

February 24, 2011 10:51 am ET — Matt Finkelstein

It's no secret that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) did not respond well to his loss in the 2008 presidential election. Since the beginning of the Obama administration, the one-time "maverick" has reversed his position on multiple issues, led the religious right's fight to preserve anti-gay discrimination in the military, and awkwardly renounced the label that defined him for years. Today, Reid Wilson reports that McCain's shift has put him the same category as stalwart right-wingers like Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Tom Coburn (R-OK):

The politician who once best exemplified the idea of a "maverick" independent has shifted so far to the right that he is now tied for the title of the Senate's most conservative member, according to National Journal's 2010 vote ratings.

According to a comprehensive examination of 96 Senate votes taken in 2010, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., along with seven of his colleagues, voted most often on the conservative side. His 89.7 composite conservative score ties him with stalwarts like Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and gives him a more conservative score than Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

By contrast, in the last assessment before he announced his presidential bid, McCain was ranked the 46th most conservative senator, putting him near the ideological center of the chamber.