The 2022 General Assembly session may have gone into overtime, but enough of the work is done to present our fifth annual scorecard! It was an unusual session, with one party controlling the House of Delegates and the other party controlling the State Senate–it means that anything that passed both chambers had to be universally inoffensive, or rely on strange coalitions.
With a 21-19 split in the Senate, and a Republican Lieutenant Governor, it meant that any single senator had the potential ability to be our own Joe Manchin. Often one of our Democrats did defect from the caucus–but interestingly in many of those instances, a Republican senator took his place voting with the Democrats. That led to some interesting votes in the Senate. On the House side, a number of Democratic delegates seemed to swing to the right, voting (in votes that didn’t matter because the GOP could pass whatever they liked) to repeal laws the Democratic majority passed the previous two years.
So, without further ado, we’re excited to present our scorecard of legislators, ranked from most progressive to least, based on their final votes on a large number of bills VAPLAN tracked during the session. (caveats below)
Top scores in the House:
- Marcus Simon (HD-53)
- Cia Price (HD-95)
- Candi Mundon King (HD-2)
- Lamont Bagby (HD-74)
- (tied for 4th) Angelia Williams-Graves (HD90)
- Jackie Glass (HD-89)
- Patrick Hope (HD-47)
- Alfonso Lopez (HD-49)
- Elizabeth Bennett-Parker (HD45)
- Nadarius Clark (HD-79)
Top scores in the Senate:
- Creigh Deeds (SD-25)
- Scott Surovell (SD-36)
- Mamie Locke (SD-2)
- Adam Ebbin (SD-30
- (tied for 4th) Jennifer McClellan (SD-9)
- Jennifer Boysko (SD-33)
LEAST progressive (most conservative) in the House:
- Kathy Byron (HD-22)
- (tied for 94) Ronnie Campbell (HD-24)
- Phillip Scott (HD-88)
- Rob Bell (HD-58)
- (tied for 97) Marie March (HD-7)
- Todd Gilbert (HD-15)
- (tied for 99) Thomas Wright (HD-61)
LEAST progressive (most conservative) in the Senate:
- Bill DeSteph (SD-8)
- Mark Peake (SD-22)
- Ryan McDougle (SD-4)
- Steve Newman (SD-23)
Closest to the middle of the scorecard: The Delegates voting closest to the middle of the scorecard are Democrats David Reid (HD-32), Danica Roem (HD-13), and Karrie Delaney (HD-67); and Republicans Carrie Coyner (HD-62), Bobby Orrock (HD-54), and John Avoli (HD-20). In the Senate, the members closest to the middle of the scorecard are Democrats Lynwood Lewis (SD-6) and Chap Petersen (SD-34); and Republicans Emmett Hanger (SD-24) and Siobhan Dunnavant (SD-12).
NOTES: The full scorecard is available here. I hope you’ll look through, find your legislator, see how they voted on these bills. I hope you’ll look through, find your legislator, see how they voted on these bills. You can find past scorecards here: 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018.
The scorecard is calculated from the votes on 62 bills that came up this year, on topics from education, criminal justice, tax policy, the environment, and more. For every progressive vote a legislator cast on a bill (either in subcommittee, committee, or on the floor, depending on where the last vote was taken), they scored one point; for every non-progressive vote, -1. Additionally, we assigned plus or minus points for signaling intent to vote by co-sponsoring a bill. Any bill that the legislator had no vote on (either from abstaining, absence without recording intended vote, or from not being on the committee where the bill was voted on) is scored a zero.
The legislator’s total score is the sum of all the bill scores, divided by the number of bills that he or she could have cast a vote on, so that the final score measures the percent of votes cast on these bills that were progressive. The measure ranges from 1 (all votes cast were progressive) to -1 (no progressive votes were cast).
Some important caveats that I reiterate every year:
- Although there are scores, with lots of decimal places, this isn’t a measure as precise as that implies. The differences between rankings within a few spots of one another are not really significant–it’s more useful to compare broad differences.
- Scorecards, no matter how mathematical looking, are always subjective to some extent. Which bills are being scored, what the “progressive” vote is on those bills, which vote to count (final vote, versus a subcommittee or committee vote that then allowed a bill to make it to the floor, etc.), whether to count co-patronage the same as a vote, whether to give bonus points for being the patron, etc.
- My methodology for choosing bills starts with bills I was tracking as they made their way through the General Assembly. Then I add bills to make sure I’ve evenly covered as many issue areas as possible. Lastly, I mostly focus on bills that aren’t party-line votes, where it’s easier to distinguish shades of grey among legislators of the same party. Many times a hotly-debated bill doesn’t end up on the scorecard because I was equally convinced by the arguments on both sides, and wasn’t completely certain which vote was the “progressive” vote. (This year that was the facial recognition software bill.)
- I almost always use the final vote on a bill for my scores; unless there is a very dramatic and substantive change so that the bill no longer does what it intends. (This year I excluded the solitary confinement and mandatory minimum bills for that reason.)
- It is always important to remember (especially this year since committee assignments changed fairly dramatically) that although I use the best method I can think of for adjusting for which sub/committees legislators serve on–and hence what bills they have the opportunity to vote on–that still affects the outcome. I currently divide the good votes by the number of votes the legislator cast in total to soften the effect, but still someone who sat on House Science and Technology only was able to vote for things that made it to the floor.
- This scorecard only represents votes, and is not a measure of a legislator’s overall value. If you watch as much General Assembly as I do, you’ll know that there are lots of “intangibles” that some legislators bring to it, like actually reading the bills, making sure everyone on the committee sees a fatal flaw in a bill, or suggesting an amendment on the fly to help another legislator’s bill overcome objections. I wish I could add bonus points at will for those legislators, but that would be awfully hard to document. 🙂