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, Conservative Review, Heritage Action for America and the Club for Growth and averaged them out for one composite 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: Conservative Review, Club for Growth and Heritage Action put out the three 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 all three scorecards. Heritage Action scores votes on a host of issues, including social and defense issues. The Club for Growth only scores economic/limited government issues. Conservative Review looks for full spectrum conservatism on every issue, including sub-committee and committee votes. 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, an average of the scorecards is a prudent way of factoring in other issues without overemphasizing them. Second, while there is much overlap among the scorecards, all three often score 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 Partisan Voting Index (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 PVI 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.