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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 between their Club for Growth and Heritage Action score in 2011 and 2012 and 2) the Cook Partisan Voter Index (PVI) based on pre-redistricting to reflect the districts of 2011.  

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 and Club for Growth legislative score.  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 we hold to be inviolate, 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 85 most conservative districts, and 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 score an average of 79.5 or higher.  A member from an R+1 district would be expected to score at least 71.  

Looking at the index broadly, we expect an A (90+) from members in our most conservative districts, rated R+13 and above.  Members from our lean-Republican districts, rated R+7-R+12, are expected to score, at a minimum, a B grade – with a sliding scale from 89 down to 80 based on the regression in PVI.  Members from R+6 districts (some of which swung to Obama) on down to R+0 (pure swing districts), are expected, at a minimum, to score a C grade, with a sliding scale from 79 down to 70 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.