National Journal released their new ideological scores today and found that Allyson Schwartz is the most conservative member of the PA House Democrats. Here they are in order, from most liberal to most conservative:
PA-2: Chaka Fattah
Liberal: 90.3; Conservative: 9.7
PA-17: Matt Cartwright
Liberal: 84.5; Conservative: 15.5
PA-14: Mike Doyle
Liberal: 83.7; Conservative 16.3
PA-1: Robert Brady
Liberal: 81.7; Conservative: 18.3
PA-13: Allyson Schwartz
Liberal: 69.0; Conservative 31.0
If you look at the methodology they use, you’ll see the score tells us more about partisanship than ideology. We’re essentially seeing how often members vote with the party, which isn’t really the same thing as their ideological outlook on the issues.
I’m dying to write a full Primary Colors blog post about this, but since our full site doesn’t drop until March 10th, I’ll just tease that the Primary Colors scores say it goes Fattah, Cartwright, Brady, Doyle, Schwartz.
If you remember how this works we’re comparing member ideology to the partisan lean of the district to see who’s voting too conservative relative to the district.
So the algorithm thinks that Matt Cartwright is the most valuable Democrat because he represents a D+4 district, but votes with progressives about 91.2% of the time – a few tenths of a percentage point less progressive than the most progressive member, Chaka Fattah.
Cartwright is more progressive than Allyson Schwartz (91.2 to 83.1), even though he represents a swingier D+4 and she represents a totally safe D+13 district. Schwartz isn’t really out of line with what’s expected of her – the algorithm expects Schwartz to vote with progressives (a bit different than Democrats!) about 85.7% of the time, but she actually is voting with us 83.1% of the time. It doesn’t recommend a primary, but it does think Congresswoman Schwartz should be more progressive.
The other point to make about this is that no Republicans hold any district more liberal than a D+5, so once the district passes that point, members are pretty much free to vote however they want.
Why doesn’t Schwartz vote as progressive as Cartwright? Why’s she getting 86% scores from the League of Conservation Voters while Cartwright, in a tougher district, is getting 96%? It’s a legitimate question, and people should ask her.