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In-Depth Look At Our Methodology

The Madison Performance Index is very simple.  It involves nothing more than addition and subtraction.  In order to match up a member’s voting record with the general ideological bent of their district, we used two elements: 1) the average of their Club for Growth, Heritage Action and Conservative Review scorecards in 2016 and 2017 and 2) the Cook Partisan Voter Index (PVI).

As each of the three legislative scorecards emphasize a different component of the Republican Party’s three legged stool, we felt that an average of them gives voters (the decision makers) a better feel for their Member’s legislative accomplishments or failures.

For those unfamiliar with the Cook Partisan Voting Index:

(Cook) PVIs are calculated by comparing the district’s average Democratic or Republican Party’s share of the two-party presidential vote in the past two presidential elections to the nation’s average share of the same.

We then set a target optimal conservative score based on how conservative the district is rated by the Cook PVI and matched it against the average of their Heritage Action, Conservative Review and Club for Growth legislative scorecards.

For every point they score below the target number for their district, they received a minus; for every point they scored above the target, they received a positive score.

Specifically, we started with the premise that in order to achieve maximum utilization of our most conservative districts, we expect their representatives to score 90 or above on the average legislative score.  We set the target of a 90 score for all districts rated R+13 and above.  These are our 109 most conservative districts. If we don’t elect full-spectrum conservatives from these districts, we will never come close to a conservative majority within the Republican Party.  These are districts that are clearly conservative, even factoring in recent trends and swings, and have given an overwhelming majority vote to the Republican presidential nominee, even during turbulent times for Republicans.

As we move from R+13 downward, the districts, while still strongly Republican, become slightly more vulnerable to tough challenges.

In order to accommodate our optimal expectation to conform with the district, we lower the target score by 1.5 points per decline in the PVI of the district.

Thus, a Member from an R+6 district who fully meets our optimal expectation would be expected to have a score of 79.5 or higher.

A Member from an R+1 district would be expected to score at least 71 to match his or her district.

Looking at the index broadly, we expect a legislative scorecard average of 90% or higher from Members in our most conservative districts, rated R+13 and above.

Members from our lean-Republican districts, rated R+7 to R+12, are expected to score 80 to 89% based on the regression in PVI.

Members from R+6 districts (some of which swung to Obama in 2008 and 2012) on down to R+0 (pure swing districts), are expected, at a minimum to score from 70 to 79% on the legislative scorecard average based on the regression in PVI.

Finally, those Republicans in Democrat-leaning districts are expected to score, at a minimum, a D grade, ranging from 69 down to 60 based on the regression in PVI.

Our minimum score for the lowest rated district that is represented by a Republican is 60.  We never expect that a member would need to achieve a failing score to utilize the district.