Rubio vs. Rand vs. Ryan: The race for conservative mantle in 2016

By Aaron Blake , February 22, 2013

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) are both strong contenders for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, and for both of them, there will be a premium on not letting the other guy get to their right.

So far, it’s been a tight battle. According to a trio of new vote ratings released this week, Rubio and Paul are neck and neck when it comes to who has been more conservative. And both, notably, have been among the most conservative senators — much more conservative, as it happens, than another potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate and conservative favorite, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Below is a chart comparing Rubio, Paul and Ryan in three key 2012 vote ratings released this week by the National Journal, the American Conservative Union and Americans for Prosperity.

The reason Paul ranks lower than Rubio in AFP’s rankings appears to be because he opposed Ryan’s budget when it came up for a vote in the Senate. While Paul joined basically all Democrats and a few moderate Republicans who thought the budget cut too much, he was actually opposing the budget because it didn’t cut enough.

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