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FiveThirtyEight’s New “8 Types Of Democrats And Republicans In The House” Analysis Is In *Stark* Contrast to Progressive Punch’s Scores

Sam Shirazi and I are going with Progressive Punch on this one...

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Over at post-Nate-Silver, now-owned-by-ABC-News FiveThirtyEight.com, they’re out with a new analysis, “8 Types Of Democrats And Republicans In The House.” Now that certainly *sounds* intriguing, so I took a look, focusing in on the Virginia delegation, since that’s my area of focus/expertise. I also showed the scores to other Virginia politicos, such as Sam Shirazi, to see what they thought.  A few of my/our takeaways from looking at the analysis include:

  • First of all, there really aren’t any “moderate” Republicans left in the US House of Representatives at this point, given that they’ve pretty much all been purged in Republican primaries (from their right) or have read the writing on the wall (that, over the past 15 years – and certainly since Trump’s nomination in 2016 – the Republican Party has lurched to the MAGA/far-right) and decided not to run for reelection.
  • On point #1, obviously that includes Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-VA02), who FiveThirtyEight puts into its “Moderate Republicans” group (which, FiveThirtyEight argues, has 39 members) but who definitely is NOT a moderate. Again, the entire Republican Party has moved hard right, so that while there really used to be moderate Republicans, there simply aren’t anymore – they’ve all been purged or quit. As for Rep. Kiggans, see below for Progressive Punch’s scores for Virginia’s U.S. House delegation, and note that Kiggans ranks LAST (!), with a miniscule/godawful 1.91% “lifetime crucial votes” progressive score, and an “F” rating relative to her (purple) district’s lean. In other words, just based on the fact that VA02 is a competitive, “swing” district won narrowly by Joe Biden in 2020, Kiggans theoretically COULD be more “moderate,” but instead, she’s thrown in her lot with the Elise Stefaniks of the world, endorsed Donald Trump for president this year, and racked up a super-low progressive vote percentage.
  • Another issue with FiveThirtyEight’s analysis is that it acts as if there’s a symmetry between Ds and Rs, when in fact the Democratic Party is a broadly centrist/center-left party, while the Republican Party by almost any metric (comparison to its own past, to other conservative parties around the world, etc.) has lurched to the far, far right – what Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann correctly identified back in 2012 as “an insurgent outlier in American politics...ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.” And it’s only gotten worse – MUCH worse – since 2012, with the Trumpified Republican Party now broadly rejecting the legitimacy of any election it doesn’t win, denying climate science, pushing to ban abortion and even contraceptives, doing Putin’s bidding, etc, etc. So…nope, there really aren’t any “moderate” Republicans, and it’s questionable whether there are any “Compromise Conservatives” either. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party remains a normal, liberal party, similar to the Liberal Democrats in the UK, the Liberal Party in Canada, etc.
  • As for the ratings of Virginia’s U.S. House Delegation, if you compare FiveThirtyEight’s categories — Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA07) as a “Moderate Democrat,” Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA11), Bobby Scott (D-VA03) and Don Beyer (D-VA08) as “Progressive Democrats,” Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA10) as a “Core Democrat,” Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA01) as an “Old Guard Republican,” Reps. Ben Cline (R-VA06) and Bob Good (R-VA05) as “Far-Right Obstructionists,” Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA09) as “Far-Right Estabishment,” Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-VA02) as a “Moderate Republican” — to Progressive Punch’s scores, they really don’t match up.
  • According to Progressive Punch, these are the ratings (in descending order in terms of progressive lifetime crucial votes %, along with their ratings compared to “district lean”) for Virginia’s U.S. House delegation:
    • Rep. Jennifer McClellan (D-VA04): 95.89% lifetime crucial votes %; “A” rating compared to district lean
    • Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA08): 90.63% lifetime crucial votes %; “B” rating compared to district lean
    • Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA03): 86.72% lifetime crucial votes %; “B” rating compared to district lean
    • Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA10): 84.43% lifetime crucial votes %; “C” rating compared to district lean
    • Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA11): 78.60% lifetime crucial votes %; “F” rating compared to district lean
    • Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA07): 73.51% lifetime crucial votes %; “F” rating compared to district lean
    • Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA09): 11.68% lifetime crucial votes %; “F” rating compared to district lean
    • Rep. Bob Good (R-VA05): 4.06% lifetime crucial votes %; “F” rating compared to district lean
    • Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA01): 3.35% lifetime crucial votes %; “F” rating compared to district lean
    • Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA06): 2.89% lifetime crucial votes %; “F” rating compared to district lean
    • Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-VA02): 1.91% lifetime crucial votes %; “F” rating compared to district lean
  • So…according to Progressive Punch, basically ALL the Republicans in Virginia’s U.S. House delegation – Griffith, Good, Wittman, Cline and Kiggans – are really on the far right, whether “far-right establishment” or “far-right obstructionists.” As for the Democrats, Progressive Punch would presumably agree with FiveThirtyEight.com that Rep. Spanberger is more of a “moderate Democrat,” but it’s much harder to understand how Rep. Wexton would be a “Core Democrat” vs. “Progressive Democrats” Reps. Beyer, Connolly and Scott (note: FiveThirtyEight.com doesn’t put Rep. McClellan in a “type,” because they argue she doesn’t have enough voting data yet to classify her). Also note that if you’re in a more “purple”/competitive district, again, you theoretically can afford to vote in a more “moderate” manner, which makes Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-VA02)’s hard-right voting record stand out even more.
  • So, what do you think? Do the FiveThirtyEight.com “types” make sense, or are you more with Progressive Punch (and Sam Shirazi and me) on this?

P.S. Here are Progressive Punch’s scores looking only at “crucial votes” in *this* Congress

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA03): 97.35%
Rep. Jennifer McClellan (D-VA04): 95.89%
Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA08): 95.82%
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA11): 93.56%
Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA10): 85.38%
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA07): 80.68%
Rep. Bob Good (R-VA05): 4.96%
Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA09): 4.20%
Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA06): 2.65%
Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-VA02): 1.91%
Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA01): 0.00%

 

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