Americans for Constitutional Action Project: An Update Part I


For some time, I have been working on what you might call “deciphering” Americans for Constitutional Action vote criterion for the scores the organization released. While we know what liberals thought was important at least back to 1947 based on Americans for Democratic Action scores, what of conservatives? Americans for Constitutional Action provides scores for the House dating back to 1957 and for the Senate dating back to 1955. The good news is that I have deciphered the entire Nixon Administration period. That means the 91st, 92nd, and 93rd Congresses are all revealed. This post will contain the criterion for the 91st Congress.


The ACA could be strict graders, and this is no more apparent than in the 91st Congress, especially 1969. Numerous Republicans who were previously thought of as conservatives see their scores plummet as opposed to during the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, and this is in part following Nixon who started his presidency by appealing more often to the Rockefeller wing of the party. Republican legislators who demonstrated conservatism during the Johnson Administration demonstrated increased liberalism. Some notable examples based on altered ACA-Index scores (meaning including paired votes and certain announced positions) include:


James B. Utt (R-Calif.)
1968 – 95%
1969 – 75%

Charles M. Teague (R-Calif.)
1968 – 78%
1969 – 50%

Gerald Ford (R-Mich.)
1968 – 74%
1969 – 53%

Al Quie (R-Minn.)
1968 – 70%
1969 – 53%

Howard W. Robison (R-N.Y.)
1968 – 61%
1969 – 35%

William M. McCulloch (R-Ohio)
1968 – 63%
1969 – 33%

Thomas Pelly (R-Wash.)
1968 – 70%
1969 – 47%


Catherine May (R-Wash.)
1968 – 73%
1969 – 40%

John W. Byrnes (R-Wis.)
1968 – 86%
1969 – 56%

For 1969, ACA judged the House based on 17 votes and the Senate based on 16 votes. Zero senators and seven representatives score a 100%. Based on official positions, President Richard Nixon himself scores a mere 30% in the House and a 22% in the Senate. For 1970, ACA judged the House based on 19 votes and the Senate based on 24 votes. Zero senators and nine representatives score 100%. Of these, however, three did not serve for the entirety of 1970. President Richard Nixon scores a 67% in the House and a 75% in the Senate, a marked improvement, although not enough to dampen conservative criticism.


The basis is below, and I have provided descriptions of the votes scored:

Additionally, the scores themselves:

1969 House:

1969 Senate:

1970 House:

1970 Senate:

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