Ranking the Candidates From Left to Right

September 2, 2014 8:30 am

by Jon Richards · 7 comments

There are plenty of scorecards out there, attempting to rank elected officials n their positions on the issues. Usually, the scorecards are formed based on how the person voted on a number of issues the group creating the scorecard believes to be important. While these rankings can be important in ranking incumbents, they are of no use when comparing novice office seekers, who have no voting record to rank.

A new website, CrowdPAC.com, attempts to solve this problem by examining the source of contributions to a candidate as a ranking factor in addition to voting history.

In Georgia, here are the overall rankings from left to right:

Candidate Office Score
Michelle Nunn S-D -5.7
Greg Duke H2-R -5.5
David Vogel H9-D -4.8
John Lewis H5-D -4.5
Hank Johnson H4-D -3.5
Robert Montigel H6-D -2.5
John Barrow H12-D -2.4
Ken Dious H10-D -2.0
Sanford Bishop H2-D -1.6
Thomas Wight H7-D -1.6
David Scott H13-D -1.5
Buddy Carter H1-R 5.5
Johnny Isakson S-R 5.7
David Perdue S-R 6.2
Tom Price H6-R 6.6
Barry Loudermilk H11-R 6.8
Austin Scott H8-R 6.9
Rob Woodall H7-R 6.9
Lynn Westmoreland H3-R 7.0
Rick Allen H12-R 7.1
Doug Collins H9-R 7.2
Tom Graves H14-R 8.2
Jody Hice H10-R 9.0

 
Admittedly, the system may not be perfect. For example, Second District incumbent Democrat Sanford Bishop ends up to the right of his Republican opponent, Greg Duke. And two candidates, Libertarian Amanda Swafford for Senate and Brian Reese in House District 1, do not have enough contributions to form a score.

In addition to an overall score, CrowdPAC ranks candidates on a wide variety of individual issues, from the economy to gun rights. For example, Republican Senate candidate David Perdue has Healthcare as his most important issue, with a ranking of 7.4, well to the right of the average Republican’s 5.6. For his Democratic opponent Michelle Nunn, the most important issue is Fair Elections, with a ranking of -6.8, just to the left of the average Democrat’s -6.4.

As today’s New York Times Upshot notes, CrowdPAC is designed so those seeking to contribute to candidates can best determine where their money should go, based on issues and race competitiveness. But, it’s also a fun site for those of us who are geeks at heart.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Chet Martin September 2, 2014 at 10:01 am

This may be an issue with the methodology, but the obvious point that Republican candidates are roughly 4 points more “positive” than Democrats are “negative” certainly supports the meme that Republicans are farther right than Democrats are left.

Of course, maybe that was the PAC’s intention.

Bridget Cantrell September 2, 2014 at 10:25 am

Sigh. This is horse manure, Jon. Why is this posted? Ranking people who don’t have a voting record… by their voting record. Bah.

Jon Richards September 2, 2014 at 10:39 am

The unique thing that CrowdPAC uses to determine rankings is the source of campaign contributions to a candidate. The are not ranking people without a voting record by their voting record, as you imply.

Is it safe to say that a candidate who gets a contribution from the NRA PAC is going to be more pro 2nd amendment than a candidate who gets a contribution from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence? These rankings are a free-market measurement of where a candidate stands, given people tend to support candidates they think will act in their interests.

David C September 2, 2014 at 6:26 pm

The problem with such a ranking system is that in any competitive race that draws a lot of fundraising it’s going to skew the candidate’s “ideology” Left or Right because a close race will draw in a lot of partisan money that might be from people who might be far more ideologically driven than the candidate, but also very much determined to win. It’s kind of like the old Daily Kos motto of “More and Better Democrats,” where ‘Netroots’ liberals will back moderate or conservative Dems in red states and then push to primary people like Joe Lieberman in what would otherwise be safe blue states. They back liberals in blue areas and conservative enough to win in red areas, and the model as described doesn’t understand strategic donation and partisan self interest.

So in a swing district or swing state, plenty of money comes in supporting the person on ‘their team’ rather than one who will vote with them all the time. It makes Nunn look far more liberal and someone like Scott Brown look more conservative than their actual positions or votes would be, because a lot of their donors are people who would rather like Democrats or Republicans to control the Senate, rather than what the actual candidate will do in office. In no world would a Senator Michelle Nunn vote to the left of John Lewis and Hank Johnson, nor would Loudermilk and Hice end up so far apart on the ideological spectrum, but their numbers get skewed by their lack of voting record and different fundraising bases.

FranInAtlanta September 2, 2014 at 11:23 am

Two comments:
1) When checking House votes, I often check how GA CBC candidates voted and I would tend to rank their order the same as it is here. Barrow tends to vote with the Republicans on the things that I check.
2) The second district is still has many FDR white Dems (who are still conservative with respect to today’s Dems), but I am not surprised that Bishop’s opponent is somewhat to his left. Bishop tends to take care of All of his district.

Kyle Hayes September 2, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Neat find! I’ll now cease to be productive the rest of the day thanks to this. Reminds me of what was posted in Vox this morning (http://www.vox.com/2014/9/2/6088485/how-political-science-conquered-washington) and another reason to not feel so bad about getting a Poli Sci degree.

Will Durant September 3, 2014 at 11:41 am

Just tracking the money going directly to a campaign doesn’t work when more money is going to the PACs/Super PACs.