Under the Dome

Civitas finds conservative shift in legislature

UPDATED: As lawmakers convene in Raleigh today, two conservative groups are releasing ideological rankings. Think of it as a partisan naughty or nice list. And in this case nice means conservative and naughty means liberal.

Civitas Action, a nonprofit political advocacy group, categorizing lawmakers based on their votes on legislation. Lawmakers that support "free-market economic policies, limited government and personal responsibility" get higher conservative scores and "effectiveness" ratings.

According to Civitas, the most conservative House members were Reps. John Blust of Greensboro and Tim Moffitt of Asheville with scores each of 98 percent. In the Senate, top marks went to Sen. Harris Blake of Pinehurst who notched a perfect conservative score. On the other end, Rep. Earline Parmon of Winston-Salem and Sen. Ellie Kinnaird of Chapel Hill were rated as the most liberal.

In its analysis, Civitas' Francis DeLuca reported that the legislature turned strongly conservative after Republicans took the helm in 2010, compared with scores from the previous three years. Overall, the conservative score for the House went from 32 percent to 62 percent and the Senate jumped even more from 27 percent to 76 percent.

DeLuca determined that the large contingent of freshmen in both chambers led the charge, rating at 91 percent conservative in the House and 97 percent in the Senate. With the GOP takeover, the Democrats are more conservative as well, the analysis found. House Democrats moved from 11 percent to 25 percent and Senate Democrats shifted from 7 percent to 38 percent.

See the breakdown here.

"When they are presented with more conservative bills, as represented in this year's session, they are inclined to vote more conservatively, regardless of party," DeLuca said.

The American Conservative Union, a Washington-area group that rates members of Congress, will hold a news conference this morning in Raleigh to announce its first ratings of North Carolina lawmakers. The two organizations did not collaborate on their ratings system, officials said.

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