'Maverick' McCain Now Most Conservative Senator He's tied for first in National Journal's rankings By Nick McMaster, Newser Staff Posted Feb 24, 2011 5:26 PM CST 15 comments Comments U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) (C), speaks at the U.S. Capitol, on February 8, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images) (Newser) – John McCain's reputation as a maverick Republican willing to cross party lines has been slipping for a while, and this will all but kill it: He's been officially crowned the most conservative senator by the National Journal. (His 89.7 vote rating actually ties him with seven others: Jim DeMint, Mike Crapo, Saxby Chambliss, John Cornyn, John Thune, Jim Risch, and John Barrasso.) By comparison, McCain ranked in the mid-40s from 2002 to 2006, the year he launched his presidential campaign. His races against Barack Obama and JD Hayworth are generally seen as the main causes for his move to the right. At Salon, Steve Kornacki thinks personal grudges also explain some of his ideological shifts. Click for that analysis.