Evidence Based Wyoming Wyoming poltics, conservatively by the numbers

2020 Wyoming Legislator Rankings

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[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:

Party Support

2020 Republican Party Support

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

2020 Democrat Party Support

wdt_ID Very Strong Strong Average Weak Very Weak
1 Rep Burlingame - D Rep Pelkey - D Rep Blake - D Rep Dayton-Selman - D Sen Gierau - D
2 Rep Clifford - D Sen Anselmi-Dalton - D Rep Freeman - D
3 Rep Connolly - D
4 Rep Schwartz - D
5 Rep Yin - D
6 Sen Rothfuss - D

Political Leaning

2020 Republican Political Leaning

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

2020 Democrat Party Political Leaning

wdt_ID Conservative Moderate/Conservative Moderate Liberal/Moderate Liberal
2 Rep Blake - D
3 Rep Burlingame - D
4 Rep Clifford - D
5 Rep Connolly - D
6 Rep Dayton-Selman - D
7 Rep Freeman - D
8 Rep Pelkey - D
9 Rep Schwartz - D
10 Rep Yin - D
11 Sen 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:

Where:
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 comments

  • 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.

  • 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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