October 19, 2021

Evidence Based Wyoming

Wyoming politics, conservatively by the numbers

2020 Wyoming Legislator Rankings

6 min read

[Author’s note: Thanks to the work of a few eagle eye readers an error was uncovered. The tool would not properly account for a legislator being the solitary vote for or against an action. This would cause the vote not to register correctly.

This has been corrected. This results in small changes to the rankings. The new rankings for the 2020 budget session can be found here This is why I try to show all my work. When I make a istake I am more than happy to own up to it and make sure everyone is aware of the error. The errors have been correct below as well. Thanks for all the help.]

I don’t find much utility in calling a legislator a RINO or other derogatory term for their voting record. What is important is making the voting record known, giving every citizen a tool to make their best judgement of a legislator’s performance.

To that end the main goal of EvidenceBasedWyoming.com’s Legislator Analysis Tool is to provide a bias free analysis of every Wyoming legislator’s voting record.

It’s well known I am a conservative Republican. Having grown up in upstate New York, I’ve seen the corrosive effect of creeping modern-liberal policy. I don’t want to see it happen here in Wyoming.

That said the legislators in Wyoming have a hard job and don’t deserve invective and derogatory treatment because of their voting record. To a person they are doing what they believe best for Wyoming. We may disagree with them on what is best for Wyoming, but they don’t deserve ill-treatment for their effort.

The public still needs to understand the voting tendencies of the legislature as a whole and of individual legislators.

To achieve that EvidenceBasedWyoming.com Legislator Analysis Tool is conceived, coded and presented as bias-free as I can make it. To avoid bias (or make it easier to point out) the methodology of the ranking is important to explain in detail.

I believe the largest bias introduced is derived from the nomenclature used to categorize the rankings.

The methodology defines seven axioms to calculate the ranking for each legislator:

  1. The analysis is performed considering all recorded votes cast by a legislator and as such is free from issue bias or the bias of the analyst.
  2. The Democrat legislators on average represent liberals in the state of Wyoming.
  3. Acting against your party’s majority causing your party’s majority to lose a vote is an expression of disagreement with the party.
  4. Comparision must be made against all legislative years for which the data is available. (Currently that’s for the years of 2009 to 2020.)
  5. Dividing the tabulated results for all years into quintiles and assigning a name to that quintile helps identify legislator voting tendencies in a relateable manner.
  6. Two rankings are appropriate for legislators, their political leaning and the level of their support for the majority of the party.
  7. All data is collected from the LSO website and the methodology and details of the data collection and calculations used are publically availible. Anyone so inclined can reproduce the analysis. [Author’s note: Please check my work.]

Applying those axioms to the data collected for the 2020 Legislative session yield the following results:

[tabby title=”Support for Party Majority”]

2020 Republican Majority Support

1Rep Blackburn - RRep Burkhart - RRep Brown - RRep Barlow - R
2Rep Clem - RRep Flitner - RRep Clausen - RRep Eklund - R
3Rep Edwards - RRep Hallinan - RRep Crank - RRep Furphy - R
4Rep Eyre - RRep Hunt - RRep Duncan - RRep Haley - R
5Rep Gray - RRep Larsen - RRep Harshman - RRep MacGuire - R
6Rep Greear - RRep Loucks - RRep Henderson - RRep Newsome - R
7Rep Jennings - RRep Miller - RRep Kinner - RRep Nicholas-B - R
8Rep Laursen - RRep Pownall - RRep Kirkbride - RRep Paxton - R
9Rep Piiparinen - RRep Salazar - RRep Lindholm - RRep Sommers - R
10Rep Styvar - RRep Washut - RRep Northrup - RRep Stith - R

2020 Democrat Majority Support

1Rep Burlingame - DRep Pelkey - DRep Blake - DRep Dayton-Selman - DSen Gierau - D
2Rep Clifford - DSen Anselmi-Dalton - DRep Freeman - D
3Rep Connolly - D
4Rep Schwartz - D
5Rep Yin - D
6Sen Rothfuss - D

[tabby title=”Political Leaning”]

2020 Republican Political Leaning

2Rep Edwards - RRep Clem - RRep Greear - RRep Blackburn - RRep Barlow - R
3Rep Gray - RRep Laursen - RRep Salazar - RRep Burkhart - RRep Brown - R
4Rep Jennings - RRep Miller - RRep Tass - RRep Clausen - RRep Crank - R
5Rep Styvar - RRep Piiparinen - RRep Washut - RRep Duncan - RRep Newsome - R
6Sen Biteman - RRep Winter - RSen Agar - RRep Eklund - RRep Nicholas-B - R
7Sen Bouchard - RSen Case - RSen Bebout - RRep Eyre - RRep Paxton - R
8Sen Hutchings - RSen Steinmetz - RSen Boner - RRep Flitner - RRep Stith - R
9Sen James - RSen Coe - RRep Furphy - RRep Sweeney - R
10Sen Dockstader - RRep Haley - RRep Zwonitzer - R
11Sen Driskill - RRep Hallinan - RSen VonFlatern - R

2020 Democrat Party Political Leaning

2Rep Blake - D
3Rep Burlingame - D
4Rep Clifford - D
5Rep Connolly - D
6Rep Dayton-Selman - D
7Rep Freeman - D
8Rep Pelkey - D
9Rep Schwartz - D
10Rep Yin - D
11Sen Anselmi-Dalton - D


Rating Calculation Explanation

Legislators are ranked on two criteria; legislator’s liberal/conservative leanings, and the legislator’s party support.

The data used is collected in the comparision of the legislators to the eay the majority of each party voted, and the the transparency data tabled from analyzing the voting record of each legislator fo the year.

Calculating the legislator party support

Each legislator’s voting record for the year being ranked is analyzed to find the number of critical defections as a percentage of the total roll call votes cast during the session. A critical defection is when a legislator casts a vote against their party majority, and the party majority loses a vote.

The range of results from the ranking year is divided into five equal bins. The five bins are ordered by the number of critical defections from least to most.

This is done for each year from 2009 up to and including the year being ranked. The range of results from all years is divided into five equal bins.

The legislator earns their rank by the bin their defection count falls in from the least defects and running to the highest labeled respectively as: Very Strong, Strong, Average, Weak, Very Weak.

Calculating the legislator liberal/conservative leaning

Each legislator’s voting record is measured against the majority of Republicans and the majority of Democrats to obtain the percentage of votes the legislator cast in agreement with the majority of Republicans and the majority of Democrats.

These percentages give each legislator two measurements, a Republican percentage, and Democrat percentage.

Once all the measurements are computed, the Average Democrat from that year is calculated by averaging all Democrat percentages to obtain an average Republican and Democrat percentages among Democrats.

Each legislator’s distance from the Average Democrat is then calculated using the pythagorean theorem:

rm is the legislator’s Republican majority vote match percentage
dm is the legislator’s Democrat majority vote match percentage
ad.rm is the average of all Democrat’s Republican majority vote match percentage
ad.dm is the average of all Democrat’s Democrat majority vote match percentage
distance to average democrat=(rmad.rm)2+(dmad.dm)2

This is done for each year from 2009 up to and including the year being ranked.

The range of distances from all years is divided into five equal bins.

The five bins are ordered by distance from the Average Democrat, running from farthest away to nearest.

The legislator earns their rank by the bin their distance for the year being measures falls in starting from the largest distance to the smallest distance and labeled respectively as Conservative, Conservative/Moderate, Moderate, Liberal/Moderate, Liberal.

2 thoughts on “2020 Wyoming Legislator Rankings

  1. The analysis is based on Rep. Burkhart own voting record. You can see his voting as compared to the Democrat and Republican majorities.

    I’d be happy to have a discussion about the methodologies used and would appreciate a critique of the methods of data collection, and calculation.

  2. Lol, the day Don Burkhart is considered a moderate or a liberal is the day you chuck any shot of credibility out the door.

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