The Michigan Congressional Delegation’s Asterisk On the Trump-O-Meter

by Tim Kiska

No surprises on delegation’s Trump meter—with one exception

When Michigan’s congressional delegation shows up to vote, divisions in the country—and regarding President Donald Trump—look a great deal like the rest of the country.

FiveThirtyEight, the data journalism outfit founded and run by Nate Silver, looked at how often lawmakers agreed with Trump, and how often they disagreed. Metrics include votes and positions on more than 100 bills, plus on-the-record statements on any number of issues. (Full story here)

The highlights:

  • Eight of Michigan’s Republican lawmakers were rock solid with Trump’s positions. Jack Bergman, Bill Huizenga, John Moolenaar, Fred Upton, Tim Walberg, Mike Bishop, David Trott and Paul Mitchell, went with Trump between 96 and 99 percent of the time. Moolenaar, Trott and Walberg each clocked in with a 98.7 rating.
  • Michigan’s four Democrats (Dale Kildee, Sander Levin, Debbie Dingell and Brenda Lawrence) were firmly in the other camp, going with Trump 17 percent to 18 percent. John Conyers, who has since resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal, scored a Trump agreement number of just 13 percent.

The numbers, however, revealed one living, breathing asterisk: U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of western Michigan’s Third District. Amash, whose policy positions reflected a distinctly contrarian attitude during his Lansing years, carried that independent streak to Washington. FiveThirtyEight’s numbers showed him agreeing with Trump’s positions 55.8 percent of the time.

A few examples:

  • Only six Republicans, including Amash, voted against a balanced budget amendment in April. Democrats accused the Republicans of hypocrisy, since it was the Republicans who passed a $1.3-trillion spending bill while slashing taxes—and then proposed machinery to balance the books. Amash and five other members of the Liberty Caucus said no, saying the bill had too many loopholes.
  • Amash has routinely voted against budget measures that would have prevented a government shutdown.

None of this has made Amash Mr. Popularity with the mainstream Republicans on the Hill. One reason could be renegade but righteous statements such as this Amash gem after the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.:  “America’s children are watching. Denounce white nationalists and their evil ideology. They are enemies of liberty and our Constitution.”

FiveThirtyEight updates these ratings often. We’ll keep you posted.