Shoving the Political Spectrum to the Right

The Times plumps for the "largely conservative voting records" of two centrist-at-best Georgia Democrats.

By covering the struggles of Democratic Rep. John Barrow and Rep. Jim Marshall in Georgia in"Seats in Danger, Democrats Proclaim Their Conservatism," reporter Kate Zernike is at least rowing against the paper's emerging pre-election trend of cheering on Democratic prospects from sea to shining sea. But Zernike and her headline writer insist on finding "conservatives" who aren't there.

"And these contests are producing some of the fiercest fights - not to mention the most contrarian campaign strategies - of the midterm elections, as Democrats try to boast of their conservative credentials and their opponents try to sequester them on the opposite extreme."

A photo caption claims that Democrat incumbent Barrow is "brandishing his conservative credentials."

"Republicans have had trouble portraying the two Georgia incumbents as liberals because they have largely conservative voting records. [Republican Michael] Collins says that is only because Mr. Marshall has had so many Republican bills to vote on."

Yet neither Barrow nor Marshall have a "conservative voting record," despite Zernike's assertion, according to the American Conservative Union rating system, which awards Barrow a lifetime score of 40 and Marshall a 41 out of a possible 100. Those ratings aren't that liberal but they certainly aren't "conservative" either - Barrow and Marshall can accurate be called centrists with a slight liberal lean.