Deciphering Politician Spin: PVI

“We live in a competitive district.  I need to compromise, so I can get things done.  Some of these votes I take are to keep the other guys from taking the seat. We don’t want Speaker Pelosi, do we?”

Sound familiar? If so, there’s a problem.  Your congressional representative, who you sent to Washington to uphold conservative principles, should not use this argument to justify abandoning his/her conservative principles.

Let’s break this down.

The Cook Political Report developed a system called Partisan Voter Index:

 The index is an attempt to find an objective measurement of each congressional district that allows comparisons between states and districts, thereby making it relevant in both mid-term and presidential election years…Only Presidential results allow for total comparability. A Partisan Voting Index score of D+2.3, for example, means that in the previous two presidential elections, that district performed an average of 2.3 points more Democratic than the nation did as a whole, while an R+3.8 means the district performed 3.8 points more Republican than the nation.

If your lawmakers in the House or Senate have a PVI of R+5 or greater, there is no political excuse not to be a Heritage Action Member Sentinel by scoring 90% or higher on Heritage Action’s legislative scorecard or better.  And Members of Congress from less conservative districts can be Sentinels or at least do much better than they currently are IF they are willing to explain their conservative votes back home, early and often.  Why is the average House Republican score a 66% on our scorecard when the average PVI for House Republican districts is R+9?  It’s called underperforming.

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Where Conservative Rubber Meets the Road

Picture this: You’re at home watching TV, surfing the internet, or reading the news, much of which has a liberal spin.  Then, you see an article written by a pseudo economist, get fired up, and take your aggression out on the leaves laying peacefully in the front yard.

Welcome to the hardworking citizen’s life.  You’ve got a job, family, social life and college football games on Saturday.  Life is good.   But when it comes to politics, you wish you could make a bigger impact with your limited free time.

You keep yourself informed of the important political issues of the day, and make it to the ballot box on election days (hoping that the conservative candidate you voted to send to Washington will stay true to his or her principles upon arriving).

But does this have to be where your impact ends?

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A Number You Should Think About: 527

Remember all the way back to the 2000 Presidential race? Well, maybe you don’t, but one thing continuously sticks in my mind: 527.  That is the number of votes by which first-time presidential candidate George W. Bush beat then-Vice President Al Gore.  That number is a strong reminder to even the greatest skeptic that every vote counts.

Although the 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections were less contested, they provided some insight into the power of grassroots activism.  In 2008, then-Senator Obama for America organized and registered 1.8 million people to vote, in the single largest grassroots campaign in presidential campaign history.

So what can everyone involved in conservative political activism take from this?  Never before has knocking on doors and participating in registration drives been more important.   Take it from Obama for America Campaign Manager, Jim Messina, the man who constructed Obama’s winning 2012 campaign, who said, “Door-knocking is going to be even more important in the future.”  Whether or not you agree with his politics, Messina arguably had a greater challenge ahead of him to get Obama reelected than David Plouffe had  in 2008.

A 24-hour news cycle and explosion of Gore’s internet ensures that we have access to any information we want, but we’re more likely to insulate ourselves from opposition view points.  Messina says political messaging is difficult in an age of electronic inundation.  Even surveys and political phone calls are losing their value to some extent.

One way to break through the electronic clutter is personal contact.

Knocking on a door and engaging your fellow citizens is returning as the paramount method of winning elections.  It’s a symbol in an electronic world of your commitment to an idea, and ideas are infectious.

Conservatives cannot allow the losses in ‘08 and ’12 to keep them down.  As 2000 reminds us, influencing just 527 people could make a difference in who occupies the White House.  It could also be the difference between winning and losing the next policy battle on Capitol Hill.  We must stand guard, ever vigilant, against Washington’s expansion of power at the expense of our freedoms.


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