Vulnerable Republicans move to the middle in 2019

With Democrats ruling the House, some GOP members aren’t voting with their party as much

Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., had the biggest drop in party unity score among House Republicans this Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the 2016 election, voters in 23 House districts simultaneously elected a Republican representative and cast ballots for the Democrats’ presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, over Republican Donald Trump.

They became top Democratic targets in the 2018 midterms and 21 of them mostly either retired or were defeated.

One of the two survivors was John Katko, who represents an upstate New York district that includes Syracuse and its environs.

So it makes sense that Katko, with Democrats now in control of the House, would shift his voting toward the middle. He’s done so this year more than any other Republican who has served in both this Congress and the last.

Katko’s CQ party unity score, which refers to the percentage of time in which he sides with his own party on votes that split a majority of Republicans from a majority of Democrats, has dropped from 85.5 percent in 2018 to 63.6 percent through May 16 of this year.

Last month, he was among the eight Republicans to vote for a bill (HR 5) by Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline to ban discrimination against LGBT people. In April, he was one of 33 Republicans to vote to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. (The National Rifle Association had convinced most Republicans to oppose it because of a provision that would restrict gun purchases by people convicted of domestic abuse.)

Brian Fitzpatrick, whose newly drawn Pennsylvania district now includes more Clinton voters than Trump ones, has also shifted his voting substantially in 2019.

The other Republican Clinton district survivor, Texas’ Will Hurd, is also moving to the middle. His party unity score has dropped 13.8 percentage points.  


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