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Why we chose this Methodology

There is no perfectly objective way to measure the ideological bent of a district and there is no perfectly objective numerical ratings system of a member’s voting record.  With that in mind, we took the most respected conservative legislative scorecards, Heritage Action for America and the Club for Growth, and averaged out the score.  For the district rating, we used the Cook PVI to identify the most conservative districts and separate them from the swing districts.

  • The legislative scorecards: Club for Growth and Heritage Action put out the two most comprehensive scorecards that accurately gauge how conservative a Member has voted.  We feel that there are two major advantages to averaging out the scores from both scorecards.  First, Heritage Action scores votes from the full spectrum of issues, including social and defense issues, while the Club only scores economic/limited government issues.  While we represent the full spectrum of conservative issues, and desire for Members to reflect those values, we also understand that 95% of the relevant voting issues revolve around fiscal policy.  To that end, a mixture between the two scorecards is a prudent way of factoring in other issues, without overemphasizing them.  Second, while there is much overlap between the two scorecards, Heritage Action and the Club often scored different spending votes, reflecting divergent lobbying strategies at the time.  By averaging out the scores, it provides members who were weak on some spending cuts, yet strong on others, an opportunity to achieve a fair average score that reflects their overall utility to conservatives in Congress.  
  • The Cook PVI: The Cook PVI is the most objective way to measure our most conservative districts.  It doesn’t measure how conservative or liberal a district is in absolute terms, only in relative terms when compared against each other.  The index factors in the average vote totals for the Republican and Democrat presidential nominees during the past two election cycles in each district and compares them against the national average.  According to the Cook index, the districts currently span from R+29 to D+41.  There are 235 districts rated at least R+1, 192 districts rated at least D+1, and 9 districts that are even.  Moreover, there are 85 districts rated R+13 or higher, 111 rated R+10 or higher, and 128 district rated R+9 or higher.  Thus, we can clearly obtain a solid conservative majority within the House Republican Conference simply by utilizing conservative districts.