Deciphering Politician Spin: PVI

Feb 19, 2013

"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.