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The curious case of Representative Roscoe

One of the question I am frequently asked is “How do you know your data and conclusions are accurate?”

Let’s look at the interesting case of Representative Jim Roscoe to find an answer. In many ways he represents the perfect test case. He served in the legislature for several years as a Democrat, until he was defeated by Rep. Marti Halverson. Fast forward to 2018, he became the first independent candidate to win election to the Wyoming House.

I didn’t catch the fact Rep. Roscoe had run as an Independent until I was reviewing the data recently. The software incorrectly attributed his votes to Republicans until corrected. (It doesn’t change the data much. It does increase the separation of the average Democrat legislator away from the average Republican legislator. The upshot is it ought to be more challenging to be a Republican classified as a Democrat and vice-versa. It turns out it doesn’t change much, if anything.)

After fixing the software, I ran the comparison in what I call the gold standard comparison for 2019. The comparison uses Minority Floor Leader Rep. Connolly and Speaker of the House Rep. Harshman as the Democrat and Republican comparators, respectively. Here are the results:

Notice Rep. Roscoe’s vote record indicates he still votes as if he was a Democrat he once was, albeit one that trends very slightly toward the Republicans.

The takeaway here is that the software is accurate. It correctly identifies Rep. Roscoe as voting with his former party. It certainly is a good test case to see if the data holds value.

Author’s Note

The 2018 loss of Marti Halverson was a horrible loss for Republicans in the House. Rep. Halverson was a stalwart conservative and has the unique ability to disagree with you and still have a beer with you after work.

In my mind, Rep. Halverson is the kind of legislator, no matter the political background, Wyoming needs. She is a stateswoman who says what she believes and doesn’t disemble or play politics in her votes.

Marti has been a firm advocate for Wyoming and deserves a huge amount of kudos from everyone, even if you disagree with her. There are few honest politicians, but she is one.

That said, its clear I have a personal bias in favor of Marti. It shouldn’t color my analysis, but I want to make readers aware.

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