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Today, Keystone politics bloggers Jon Geeting and Ryan O'Donnell announced a new project called Primary Colors, a scoring system that can be used to identify which incumbent Democrats deserve a primary because their voting record is too conservative for their districts.

Here's how Jon Geeting described the scoring system:

Our new scoring system, launching in just a few weeks, will assign each Democratic member of Congress a primary score between 0 and 10. The higher the score, the more deserving of a primary challenge.

....

We arrive at these primary scores through a two-step process: First, by weighting and averaging various partisan scores like DW-Nominate, Progressive Punch, and National Journal, we get a very clear picture of each member’s voting habits. Then we compare that value to other members representing similar districts in the current Congress. This is crucial, since members aren’t being judged against some woolly progressive ideal. A Democrat representing a district with a D+4 partisan lean is compared to other Democrats in D+4 districts — and the more conservative they are than those colleagues, the higher their primary score. This, along with the rest of our methodology, creates an algorithm which allows activists to find out where they can replace Democrats too conservative for their state or district with real progressives — with little to no fear of losing to said seat to Republicans.

I'll be curious to see the ultimate design of their scoring system because many of the other ones often seem flawed.  For instance, National Journal ranked Bernie Sanders as the 32nd most liberal senator for 2012. When I saw that, I broke out laughing. Either the person doing the number crunching was under the influence, or their system fails to understand what it means to oppose legislation from the left. A large part of National Journal's flaws likely stems from the latter because they view votes through a rigid binary framework. Take, for instance, the Budget Control Act. Both Ben Nelson and Bernie Sanders opposed it; however, Nelson likely opposed it for the same reasons that 19 Republican senators did--i.e. that the cuts weren't steep enough. Gillibrand, Merkley, Harkin, Lautenberg, and Menendez also opposed the bill from the left.

Scoring systems also suffer from an inability to address the influence of senators in shaping the terms of the debate, whether by introducing legislation that never gets to a vote or by shaping the legislation that ultimately does. For the latter reason, Chuck Schumer often gets rated as far more liberal than he really is.

The key shortcoming of the DW Nominate system, in my opinion, is its exclusive use of lifetime scores.  This focus makes it impossible to track an individual politician's ideological evolution over time. One of the best examples of this is the case of Kirsten Gillibrand, who went from being a Blue Dog Democrat from upstate New York to a liberal Democrat representing the full state in the Senate. Because the DW Nominate system does not reflect this transition, it portrays Gillibrand as much to the right of her current ideological lean.

Nevertheless, I look forward to the full roll-out of the website.  Currently, the teaser website identifies the 58 Democrats who deserve a primary based on their score. From writing diaries on recent House votes, I can say that they've done a good job at identifying Democrats who are far too conservative for their home districts.

Who are the 58?

Primary Colors identifies 6 Democrats who must be primaried because they vote far more conservatively than their districts would suggest.  They all have a primary score of 9 or 10.

Henry Cuellar (TX-28): 10
Sean Maloney (NY-18): 10
Filemon Vela (TX-34): 9
Bill Owens (NY-21): 9
Jim Costa (CA-16): 9
Cheri Bustos (IL-17): 9

Primary Colors identifies 6 Democrats who should be primaried because their voting behavior is "beyond repair" and they need to be replaced. They all have scores between 6 and 8.

Sanford Bishop (GA-02): 6
Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02): 6
Daniel Maffei (NY-24): 6
Jim Cooper (TN-05): 6
Scott Peters (CA-52): 6
Bill Foster (IL-11): 6

Next are 26 Democrats who could be primaried because they break with progressive values too often.  They all received scores between 3 and 5.

Terri Sewell (AL-07): 5
Gary Peters (MI-14): 5
Gene Green (TX-29): 5
Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01): 5

Marc Veasey (TX-33): 4
Daniel Lipinski (IL-03: 4
Juan Vargas (CA-51): 4
Bradley Schneider (IL-10): 4
Tammy Duckworth (IL-08): 4
David Scott (GA-13): 4

Adam Smith (WA-09): 3
Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02): 3
Pete Gallego (TX-23): 3
Eric Swalwell (CA-15): 3
Tony Cardenas (CA-29): 3
Representative of CA-15
Cedric Richmond (LA-02): 3
Representative of LA-02
Al Green (TX-09): 3
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09): 3
Dina Titus (NV-01): 3
Bill Enyart (IL-12): 3
Julia Brownley (CA-26): 3
Gloria Negrete McLeod (CA-35): 3
Steven Horsford (NV-04): 3
Ron Barber (AZ-02): 3
Raul Ruiz (CA-36): 3
Derek Kilmer (WA-06): 3

Finally, 20 Democrats (score = 2) should be more progressive but can easily turn things around and better represent their constituents:

Carolyn McCarthy (NY-04)
Ami Bera (CA-07)
Joaquin Castro (TX-20)
G. K. Butterfield (NC-01)
Marcy Kaptur (OH-09)
Gregory Meeks (NY-05)
Charlie Rangel (NY-13)
John Carney (DE-AL)
Robert Andrews (NJ-01)
Ed Perlmuter (CO-07)
Peter Visclosky (IN-01)
Eddie Johnson (TX-30)
Gerald Connolly (VA-11)
Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08)
Jerry McNerney (CA-09)
Chaka Fattah (PA-02)
John Delaney (MD-06)
Ruben Hinojosa (TX-15)
Mike Doyle (PA-14)
Jim Moran (VA-08)

What are your thoughts on this list?  Any names not on it that should be?  Any names on it to which you object?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Great focus, L.E.F...T.... (3+ / 0-)

    I see what you did there!
    O.O

    .......................................
    Back on topic, Terri Sewell's voting record on issues of privacy f'ing suck. Why is she so contemptuous of her constituents' privacy rights, is she getting campaign donations that influence her?

    And Adam Smith is a goddamn weasel, the sooner he's bounced the better.

  •  Tammy Duckworth? (4+ / 0-)

    Didn't she just get elected for the first time?

    Most models are wrong, but some are useful.

    by etbnc on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 07:50:46 PM PDT

    •  Yes (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      harrylimelives, Lujane, Sybil Liberty

      Too late for the young gun to lead a simple life

      by chicago minx on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 07:51:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps a bit early to throw stones? (n/t) (4+ / 0-)

        Most models are wrong, but some are useful.

        by etbnc on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 07:55:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In my opinion, yes (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          etbnc, harrylimelives, Lujane

          Too late for the young gun to lead a simple life

          by chicago minx on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 07:59:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Why? (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chi, Dumbo, Simplify, PhilJD, RFK Lives

          This isn't an attack on Congressmen forced to vote for right-wing policies because of their districts but those who vote for them in spite of them.

          Duckworth is fair game.

          •  You don't know that district (0+ / 0-)

            Too late for the young gun to lead a simple life

            by chicago minx on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 08:03:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  This metric takes into account the exigencies... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Chi

              members from reddish districts face by taking note of the voting patterns. And margins of victory.

              Do you disagree with the methodology used here. If so, why?

              •  This was Joe Fucking Walsh's district (6+ / 0-)

                I don't particularly have a problem with the methodology as I am reading it, but there are variables and intangibles that can't be measured.   I mean, Tammy Duckworth?!  She just took office in January from that execrable teabagger.  Go hunt down someone else.

                Too late for the young gun to lead a simple life

                by chicago minx on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 08:09:30 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  omg... (0+ / 0-)

                  I didn't know it was cool to curse folks out.
                  Why you cursing me? I didn't yell at you.

                  •  How am I cursing you? (4+ / 0-)

                    His name is Joe Fucking Walsh, it's well known ;

                    Too late for the young gun to lead a simple life

                    by chicago minx on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 08:12:45 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  But you're becoming belligerent... (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Chi, Lujane

                      I wasn't being churlish, I was trying to engage you in a substantive debate and you started acting wild. Let's start over:

                      Do you think the diary premise is unfair in judging Duckworth to be more conservative than her district requires.

                      How do you arrive at your conclusion?
                      Thanks.

                      •  I am not being belligerent or "wild" (4+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        JGibson, GoGoGoEverton, sngmama, unfangus

                        I never called you a name or described your behavior at all.  I called Joe Walsh by his given name around these parts, Joe Fucking Walsh, and you apparently were offended by that, I guess.  Now I will repeat what I said:  I don't particularly have a problem with this methodology but I think there are other Dems that could be targeted before Tammy Duckworth.  She just took office in a tough district and there are certainly other Dems that could be targeted first.  I used to live in that district and now I live in Bill Foster's district, another rep who is apparently not progressive enough.

                            The far western suburbs of Chicago (and beyond) are a tricky political landscape.  They are getting a bit more blue but were really dark red for many, many years.  Democrat Tim Hall won out here in one of the first elections I voted in, 1974.  He was swept in on a Watergate backlash but got voted out soon after.  It's getting better here but we have to be careful with the Democrats we put up of we don't want to hand the districts back to Republicans, or worse, teabaggers.

                        Too late for the young gun to lead a simple life

                        by chicago minx on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 08:34:37 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  But you assume she's going to become... (0+ / 0-)

                          more liberal as time goes by absent our pressure because of some inner goodness?

                          She's voting against my 4th amendment rights to privacy now. And we should leave her alone because somehow she's going to get better on her own.

                          And absent pressure?

                        •  With Regards to Tammy Duckworth (0+ / 0-)

                          She represents a D+8 district now, a district lean where no Republican holds such a seat. The closest one is Gary Miller (R-CA) in a D+5 -- so the seat should be more than safe to ask for her to not even vote ideologically pure from a progressive standpoint, but just for her to keep up with other progressives in a D+8 seat.

                          Within the last week, she's dropped to a primary score of a '3' -- because she's been voting approximately 72% progressive, when a D+8 would call for voting more like 82% progressive. We're not asking for 100%.

                          Also, with regards to new members, here's why we don't think it's unfair to judge them at the same rate of other members: First, our scores are updated weekly. While you're obviously not going to get a very clear picture of a MOC after just a few weeks of being in office, our regularly-updated scores will give a better sense of each representative's current trajectory -- which is the important thing early-on. And more specifically, the scores are heavily weighted on the current congress rather than lifetime scores -- regardless of whether you've been in office for one year or 20 years. So the only difference between new members and veteran members in this sense is that veteran members who voted progressively in previous years are given more slack in our scores if they're not voting as well in this current congress -- whereas, inversely, members that vote progressively in the current congress but have a history of voting more conservative, our scores are a little more tough on. Nobody should make a decision to primary somebody based on a voting record of a month or two, but by the time those decisions are getting made, each member would have cast enough votes to know whether they're likely to be a friend or foe of the progressive movement.

                •  Do you have a problem with the name? (0+ / 0-)

                  Who's Jon Keating?  Did you read the link?

                •  Really, no it wasn't (0+ / 0-)

                  After Madigan got done with the district lines in the state legislature, it was unrecognizable.  The only question was how much Walsh would lose by.

              •  I'd like to see the source code (3+ / 0-)

                Data mining can be useful when done by folks who know how to cope with its pitfalls. It can yield very misleading results when done by folks who don't fully appreciate its limitations.

                The guy who was the source of my signature line, the late George E.P. Box, restated his observation about abstract models in different ways at different times. One of his questions was, as best I recall,

                "How wrong can a model get before it stops being useful?"

                it's not so much that I disagree with this Keystone project, but that I have enough expertise to think that the late Prof. Box's question might be particularly relevant to this "teaser" iteration.

                Cheers

                Most models are wrong, but some are useful.

                by etbnc on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 08:16:43 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well, the other way is we could just (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  unfangus

                  wing it.  The nice thing about lists like this is that we know, from having observed how Republicans do it, that it intimidates many Congresspeople when their name goes on some kind of "list."  

                  I say bravo to the diarist.  This is very constructive.

                  •  Thanks! (0+ / 0-)

                    Our site isn't meant to be the be-all-end-all of primaries -- we just wanted to help progressives gain a better understanding of who is over- or under-performing in their district based on its lean and their colleagues in similar districts.

                •  My modelling mantras are (0+ / 0-)

                  Peter Drucker (1909—2005)

                     The important and difficult job is never to find the right answers, it is to find the right question. For there are few things as useless—if not dangerous—as the right answer to the wrong question.
                  and
                     The most serious mistakes are not made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong questions.
                  John Tukey (1915—2000)
                     Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than an exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made precise.
                  Quotations gathered in Right Answer, Wrong Query, Statistics Roundtable, Quality Progress, March 2012.

                  Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

                  by Mokurai on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 11:54:21 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  For etbnc (0+ / 0-)

                  We're not sharing any code yet, especially because the teaser site was meant to show primary scores at face value -- but if you want to email us (info@primarycolors.net), I'd be more than happy to give you a more detailed rundown of how we're pulling these numbers. We're extremely open to ideas from other progressives to make this score as fair and helpful as possible.

          •  Two reasons (4+ / 0-)

            to consider giving a little leeway to a new Congressperson, particularly toward the low end of the scale:

            1. How many actual votes are figured into the calculation?  How representative are those issues?  I presume, for a new member, that just a couple of quirky votes could make a difference in the rating, so I'm not inclined to give much credence to a rating based on just a few months in office.

            2. Do we really want to assume that a new Democratic member is "beyond hope", and needs to be voted out?  As an alternative, maybe a bit of focused lobbying or education would be a more effective approach.

            •  Fair points, chas... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              unfangus

              but do you think it's a bad idea to point out to those newly elected members that they're voting more conservatively than necessary at the start of their careers?

              What's the harm?

            •  I think this is a form of constructive (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              unfangus

              lobbying and education.  We can't primary all of them.

              I actually suggested something like this a long time ago, before we primaried Liebermann.  The idea is, if we make a list of people we'd like to primary, that even though we can't primary ALL of them, we can only primary ONE of them, we can at least make the rest of the people on the list worry that next time it might be them at the top of the list.

              •  Exactly! (0+ / 0-)

                You're 100% right -- and that was the other reason why we did this on a scale that pushed the most conservative Democrat in the most liberal district to the top of a list for a primary. Resources are always limited -- so this was a way to help people focus on the members that were hurting us the most.

            •  For Chas 981 (0+ / 0-)

              Very solid points! If you have a minute to email us (info@primarycolors.net) and respond to something I wrote previously about why we're treating new members the same as veteran members, and let us know what you think?

              First, our scores are updated weekly. While you're obviously not going to get a very clear picture of a MOC after just a few weeks of being in office, our regularly-updated scores will give a better sense of each representative's current trajectory -- which is the important thing early-on. And more specifically, the scores are heavily weighted on the current congress rather than lifetime scores -- regardless of whether you've been in office for one year or 20 years. So the only difference between new members and veteran members in this sense is that veteran members who voted progressively in previous years are given more slack in our scores if they're not voting as well in this current congress -- whereas, inversely, members that vote progressively in the current congress but have a history of voting more conservative, our scores are a little more tough on. Nobody should make a decision to primary somebody based on a voting record of a month or two, but by the time those decisions are getting made, each member would have cast enough votes to know whether they're likely to be a friend or foe of the progressive movement.

          •  ummm... (0+ / 0-)

            Tammy Duckworth is not a Congressman.

            Please be gender-inclusive in your use of language.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 08:54:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  do you have something substantive to say? (0+ / 0-)

              If not, then don't waste my time.

              •  Very well, here's something substantive. (0+ / 0-)

                Despite the fact that they are just over 50% of the population, women comprise only 17.9% of the House of Representatives, and only 20% of the Senate.

                I'm going to assume that you find that just as unacceptable as I do.

                I'm not going to pretend that changing the language we use to describe federal legislators from "Congressman" to a gender-inclusive term like "member of Congress" will solve that problem in one go, but it's still a helluva lot better than continuing to use gender-exclusive language just because we don't want to bother changing it.

                "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                by JamesGG on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 09:07:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, the approved term nowadays (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              unfangus

              is Congress Critter.

        •  Put the fear of God into her. (0+ / 0-)

          Help her be a better Congresswoman.

          They have to earn our vote every single time they run.

  •  I'm in Bill Foster's new IL11 (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    etbnc, Chi, Lujane, JGibson, sngmama

    In 2008 he won IL14, lost it to Randy Hultgren, and then won the redrawn 11th.  I don't think he should be primaried just yet.  It sounds good to replace him with someone "more progressive" but I don't want this district to flip red.  Foster has a certain wonky appeal that crosses party lines.  He actually didn't get booed in our community's annual "Prairiefest" parade, which for a Democrat is unusual.

    Too late for the young gun to lead a simple life

    by chicago minx on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 07:59:11 PM PDT

    •  Who would you suggest to replace him (0+ / 0-)

      on the list?

    •  But it's a new district! (0+ / 0-)

      Bill Foster is now in a D+8, where no other House Republican holds a seat that liberal-leaning. Since he lost and came back, we've only been scoring him on his new votes -- so he's been voting more conservative (~68.7% progressive) than his colleagues in a D+8 are showing is more average (~82.3% progressive) in that district.

      But even if Representative Foster did win in 2010, our scores weight the current congress far more than previous congresses, exactly for reasons like this.

      We completely agree that we don't want this district to turn red -- but the risk is very low. And we could get some key votes out of giving it to a more progressive Democrat.

  •  An interesting aspect (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane

    This is dw-nominate scores on the vertical axis. Lower is more liberal. And Cook PVIs on the horizontal axis. Right is more Democratic districts. It's from the 111th Congress.

    The Democratic Representatives too conservative for their district, are the ones from the very heavily Democratic urban districts, over to the right side.

    I've added a rough trendline for Democrats, to help show this.

    A fuller manyeyes version of the graph, with popup scores for individual rhe Representatives, is here.

    •  This is great! (0+ / 0-)

      I literally have almost the exact same graph on my computer -- except it's from a combination of ProgressivePunch, DW-N, party-line votes, etc., so that we could translate it into one more easy 0-100% for folks that aren't quite as mathematically-oriented.

      We seem to be at looking these things from the same perspective, if you have any insights or tweaks, or want to know more about our methodology, shoot us an email! info@primarycolors.net

  •  no, they shouldn't be primaried (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    etbnc, ballerina X, SoCalLiberal

    I see lots of names on that list who are first-term Congressmen who narrowly beat incumbent Republicans in 2012, and represent districts that are about even in PVI.  Many of them are the first Democrats to represent territory that had been Republican for decades.  Primarying them from the left is about the dumbest thing we could do, and it won't make Congress more liberal as long as Republicans are still in the majority.

    There are maybe 5 names on that list of Congressmen who you could argue should be primaried because of their bad voting records and behavior and statements, including at least 2 who Dailykos has run primary challenges against in the past and failed.

    •  Please be more gender-inclusive in your language. (0+ / 0-)

      Many of the people on this list are not Congressmen at all.

      If we progressives, of all people, continue to use "Congressman" as the default term for "member of Congress," should we be at all surprised that women continue to be underrepresented in Congress in comparison to their proportion of the population?

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 08:57:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We agree(d) on the even PVI districts (0+ / 0-)

      One of the reasons we released this site as a teaser was to gain insight from progressives that are interested in this before our full-site is launched. The members in even districts were the most common criticism we heard, so we went back, dug in, and decided it was definitely true to give the even reps more slack.

      Will you check out the updated teaser from this week and let us know what you think? (info@primarycolors.net) Some of the scores changed because of tweaks to our methodology, and some changed just because we loaded the progressive or non-progressive votes in for the week.

      Here's what I wrote about the change: "Originally, our thought-process with regards to these conservative-voting members in D+4 and more Republican districts was (a) that their voting record was bad enough that a primary was worth the risk, because we could still get a Democrat in that seat who votes far more progressive and can stay safe based on their colleagues who are safe in similar PVIs. We still think this is right also -- which is why these swing members who were an 8/10 or a 9/10 primary score (must be primaried) last week didn't drop off completely, but dropped to a 4/10 or 5/10 (could be primaried). And (b) we were already giving candidates in R+ districts additional slack to populate our primary score, but it was a linear formula giving additional slack based on the x in an R+x. Expanding on this, we decided a polynomial formula was much more fitting to giving swing-district members additional slack based on the probability of a Republican picking up a seat with that PVI -- which we think made our scores even more accurate."

  •  That site is bull shit. They don't really take (5+ / 0-)

    into account how conservative some of the old school Dem voters are or the areas they're in.  Why the fuck is my home district congressman Mike Doyle even on this list?  He voted against the war in Iraq and all war funding.  He's pro-gay rights, pro-labor, was a huge opponent of SOPA and has been against a lot of pro-austerity plans.  Doyle's one of the good guys and he's very pro-choice.  Also as conservative as John Barrow is this list fails to mention that the Georgia GOP has constantly redrawn just district making it redder every time hence making him more conservative.  I may not like everyone on this list but considering where they're from, I can't vouch for primaries.  You want these districts more progressive, we need to get progressives and progressives policies initiated first on the local level.  Make the blue states bluer, the purple states blue and some red states purpleis what I say.

    Funny Stuff at http://www.funnyordie.com/oresmas

    by poopdogcomedy on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 08:51:07 PM PDT

    •  Hence my comment above about data mining (2+ / 0-)

      The reality checks that you and others are doing here are good and necessary. I'd like to see a lot more of this kind of critique and refinement before the folks running the project try to use it for anything serious.

      Otherwise, I see some indications that it's not ready for prime time.

      Cheers

      Most models are wrong, but some are useful.

      by etbnc on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 08:59:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks! Sorry if I sounded really angry in my (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SoCalLiberal

        comment but seeing Doyle on this list just pisses me off.

        Funny Stuff at http://www.funnyordie.com/oresmas

        by poopdogcomedy on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 09:12:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  These real-life observations are important. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poopdogcomedy

          No worries. I understand.

          A different name jumped out at me as an oddity, and I'm not even in that member's district. What you and a few others have noticed is that the model yielded some results that don't seem to reconcile with our lived experience in the real world.

          Generally, that's not the way it's supposed to work.

          The data modelers and data miners that I've known wouldn't want that to happen. To me that suggests this model is still in its early stages and that it would benefit from considerable refinement before going live as a public policy project.

          The folks who came up with this idea seem to have an intriguing hypothesis. I hope they're careful when they refine it. Otherwise it could backfire.

          Cheers

          Most models are wrong, but some are useful.

          by etbnc on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 09:37:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We're looking for the names that seem wrong (0+ / 0-)

            So we can dig harder in on those folks and see if our algorithm proves it right -- or if there needs to be additional tweaks with regards to those members that we're missing.

            So if you see anybody on primarycolors.net that jumps out at you (especially in the teaser/beta phase), please let us know who and why, so we can dive in on that individual and make sure that our methodology is as fair as possible.

        •  With Regards to Doyle (0+ / 0-)

          We know him very well also! We're both from Pennsylvania.

          He's a '2' on our list (or more specifically a '1.9'), which doesn't even mean he deserves a primary. Our definition of folks that fall in that range is "they can still easily turn things around and better represent their constituents by voting more progressive."

          We actually wrote something exactly about this on Mike Doyle after the teaser site was released on Keystone Politics.

          I think we do a fairly good job explaining that Doyle's not on the list because he's conservative or even moderate. He's just in a very liberal district D+15, where he doesn't need to be breaking with progressives on some of the issues he is because he has virtually no risk of ever losing that seat to a Republican.

    •  On their scoring system and some names on the list (0+ / 0-)

      The site listed people with the same nominal score in non-alphabetic order.  If that implies more variance (e.g. a 3.4 vs. 3.5), then the numbers should have been taken out to a few significant digits. I'd also be interested to see how they weight different scores and, possibly, votes.

      With many of the names on the list, a primary would be a total waste of money, and pushing the candidate to the left is better done before the election rather than during.

      Some of the candidates listed might just retire.  I'm thinking mainly of Charlie Rangel here. In Gary Peters's case, he's running for Senate (although, unfortunately, he seems to Levin's right in many ways).  

      Chaka Fattah has amassed some awful votes--like his past votes for Keystone XL and for Simpson-Bowles--which make no sense because he represents one of the most solidly blue districts. However, primarying him is a waste of money.

      Hakeem Jeffries has had some bad votes (CISPA comes to mind), but he has been--overall--one of the better members of the freshman class.

      With any of the CA folks, the value of a primary depends on how likely one would end up splitting the vote and producing a Republican vs. Republican second round.

      •  In Peters defense, I don't know if I would say (0+ / 0-)

        he's to the right of Levin.  Has he made some bad votes lately? Yes.  But his voting record before he decided to run is much better.  He might be voting the way he's voting because even though it's Michigan, the GOP doesn't have a bat shit crazy candidate for him to go up against so some of his votes might just be to show, "hey I can work with the other side".  It's stupid but how many times do you hear people complain about nothing getting done and congress not working together?  I hear it a lot and no, it's not cable news, it's actual people.

        Funny Stuff at http://www.funnyordie.com/oresmas

        by poopdogcomedy on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 09:17:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Tragedy of Politics (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poopdogcomedy, unfangus

          What I find so sad is that the same people will often say that "the Democrats and Republicans need to stop their partisan bickering and just work together" and also disagree with every substantive policy in the Republican platform. It is the strange disconnect wherein people will always say they want "bipartisanship" but are strongly opposed to the often-awful legislation to which that amounts in real life.

          •  Oh I agree. I also think people think, "well I (2+ / 0-)

            don't want them to turn medicare into a voucher program but I want them to get something done!"  As much as I love my fellow Americans and I see a lot of good in them but they can selfish consumers who want everything now.  Just look at how people will line up for the new iPhone.  Or they might say, "I want an American product" but then when they find out how expensive it could be, they'll go right back to Wal-Mart because they don't want to spend the money.  I try to stick with my local businesses, especially over Christmas time.  Have to say I was proud of myself for buying predominantly American made products from small businesses.

            Funny Stuff at http://www.funnyordie.com/oresmas

            by poopdogcomedy on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 09:27:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  His district was very different (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poopdogcomedy

          With the Rethug gerrymander in full force, his new district is way to the left of his old.  Whoever replaces Peters in MI-14 when he (very likely) becomes our next Senator will be to his left.

          With the Obamacare delay vote, it seemed clear that Peters was voting to bolster his bipartisan creds for his Senate run.

      •  Thanks! (0+ / 0-)

        Very helpful. And you're right, our primary scores are organized not as '10,' '9,' '8,' etc., but more as '9.8,' 7.5,' etc.

        And you raise three points that I've thought about a lot:

        (1) Do you think we should leave Gary Peters on the site? Half of me says 'no,' obviously because he's running for Senate -- but the other half of me says 'yes,' so that people can know that he was not as liberal as his district would have expected him to be. And then I go back to the other half thinking that his district was a D+29 and Michigan as a whole is only a D+4, so he's actually a much better fit for the state than his district.

        (2) You list some members that are overall liberal, but have taken some bad votes, and are in high D+ districts. That's essentially the criteria for making it onto our '1' or '2' score, which isn't really advocating a primary. It's more there intending to let them and their liberal constituents know that they can be voting more progressive without fearing of losing their seat. Do you think that comes across?

        (3) Freaking California! Do you have time to email me with your thoughts about this (info@primarycolors.net)? Their crazy voting system makes me wonder if it's something that we should account for in our scoring, or if it's good enough to say "this person is in a progressive district and is not voting progressive" and leave it up to others to decide if it makes sense to primary in California -- since we can't end up with the dreaded R v. R second round.

    •  I largely agree with you (0+ / 0-)

      I don't really like the encouragement of this.  We can't demand perfection from every single elected official and I can't think of ANYONE who I agree with 100% of the time.  An algorithm makes this all worse because you're taking votes, assigning a score, and going from there.  A score assigned to a vote does not determine one's progressivism or one's ideology either.  It's not a numbers based game, it's a wholistic evaluation.  

      But I can say that definitely needing to be taken off the list are Raul Ruiz, Tammy Duckworth, Tulsi Gabbard, Eric Swalwell, and Kirsten Sinema.  The algorithm is screwed up if they're on it.  

      I'd also take Julia Brownley and Scott Peters off as well.  I don't think we need to sit around challenging Democrats who will be heavily challenged by Republicans.  

      Check out my new blog: http://socalliberal.wordpress.com/

      by SoCalLiberal on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 11:13:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Check primarycolors.net again! (0+ / 0-)

      As I've said before, one of the reasons we released the teaser first was because we wanted to think of things more in beta-form to get progressives to help us tweak the methodology. Especially since we don't live in these districts.

      Like I posted above, the most common understandable criticism was that we weren't giving enough slack to Dems in swing to Republican districts. We were already giving them additional slack, because the whole point of this site is that we don't want to primary folks with the risk of losing the district.

      So a good example is John Barrow -- who's now in an R+9. He's been voting about 45.5% progressive, while we'd expect a Dem in an R+9 to vote more like 56% progressive while not being too liberal for his seat (because these numbers are based off of his colleagues). Because of that negative value to progressives, we were already giving candidates in R+ districts additional slack to populate our primary score, but it was a linear formula giving additional slack based on the x in an R+x. Expanding on this, we decided a polynomial formula was much more fitting to giving swing-district members additional slack based on the probability of a Republican picking up a seat with that PVI -- which we think made our scores even more accurate. Now John Barrow is a primary score of '0.'

  •  Cedric Richmond (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gygaxian

    I haven't looked at his numbers, but I bet that Cedric Richmond would have terrible name recognition numbers for an incumbent congressman. He has quietly and modestly done just about nothing that would bring any attention to himself. I really don't think ideologically he is out of tune with his district in any way. I just don't think he has made any impression on them whatsoever. There are potential superstar local Democrats who could pick up that seat if they wanted to run including Mitch Landrieu, James Carville and the more intriguing Melissa Perry Harris about whom I have never heard any buzz. I don't think any of them have shown any inclination and people tend to hold seats in this district forever. Incumbents know how to bring home the bacon, spread some love around and get out the vote even if they don't do anything to earn it.

    •  With Regards to Cedric Richmond (0+ / 0-)

      He's pretty low on our list (3/10 to primary) -- but he's just in a very liberal district, so the demands should be higher of him.

      Mr. Richmond represents a D+23 district which, based on his colleagues' voting, we should expect he vote progressive ~88.4% of the time. He's currently voting more at 80%. It's not horribly off -- which is why his score is only at a '3' -- but it's enough to demand more progressive action in an extremely safe district.

  •  Who is Jon Keating? (0+ / 0-)

    You mean Jon Geeting?  You have no idea do you?  You reference his name and his website as if you've heard of him before.

    I've never heard of him, but if I was going to create a link using his name I'd certainly get it right.

    I knew it.

    •  Fixed (0+ / 0-)

      I found the link to the website through Howie Klein of Act Blue on Twitter.  I googled the name on Twitter to find out who designed it and found the Keystone Politics article linked above.  I then copied the name over incorrectly by mistake.

      •  I can understand making a mistake. No one is (0+ / 0-)

        Perfect.  What I have a problem with is that you posted a link to people and to a site that judges Democrats and then suggests primarying those Democrats they judge to be too conservative without knowing who those people are.

        You obviously don't know much about these bloggers, their political leaning or even their names, but you link to their web page as if you vetted them out..  You credit their information without any knowledge of those supplying the information.

        To your credit, contrasting their rating system against the National Review's system is quite ingenious but using Bernie Sanders, an Independent, as a flawed example is deceptively clever.

        All of that is of little consequence any longer.  When determining the credibility of others is your goal, you should be credible yourself.  

        Of course, I could be wrong.

        •  *National Journal (0+ / 0-)

          I spoke about National Journal's, not National Review's, ranking system.  That might have been a typo in your comment, but there's a huge difference between them.  National Review is solidly right-wing, and I wouldn't give much credence to a ranking system they create.  NR would be focusing on conservatism as the ideal and rate candidates akin to how the American Conservative Union does. NR might even have their own system--I just have never paid attention to its existence.

          Here's a link to National Journal's 2013 page: http://www.nationaljournal.com/...

          National Journal has more of a "Beltway centrist" bent to it, somewhat like The Hill.

          •  I apologize immensely. I cannot give (0+ / 0-)

            You an explanation of how that error even happened.  I have never before mentioned or referred to the National Review for anything.  

            I can't tell you how sorry I am for making such a mistake and I cannot thank you enough for bringing it to my attention.  I truly can't explain how that happened.  

            I am guilty of pointing out such errors in the writing's of others and I self correct myself when I make errors, but this is a huge error and I hope my error hasn't caused you any distress.

          •  We initially weighted NJ very low ... (0+ / 0-)

            Now we just removed them from our scores. We disagreed with them too much to incorporate their methodology at all. They are now replaced with a lower-weighted 'votes with party' score. We thought, this way, our scores would punish people more who vote against progressives and against the party, and punish people (a little) less who vote against progressives but with the party.

  •  Anybody who lives in one of those districts, (0+ / 0-)

    should PRINT OUT THAT LIST above, and mail it to their congress critter.

    I think this is a great idea.  Let them know we're watching them and they need us more than we need them.  It's an organized way of applying a metric that lets the congresspeople know how close they are to being primary challenge material.  Let them know people are watching and already making lists with their name on it.

  •  I just want to go after GOP-held seats (0+ / 0-)

    I'm hungry to defeat Republicans.

    SERIOUSLY hungry to defeat them.  Why I'll go and clone 1,000 of Howard Dean types and Elizabeth Warren types to destroy them all!

  •  Maloney (NY-18) (0+ / 0-)

    is certainly turning out to be Bloomberg in gay clothing.

    Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

    by milkbone on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 08:46:23 AM PDT

    •  Maloney's a big disappointment, but (0+ / 0-)

      We also gave him a bit more slack in our updated scores -- because of how susceptible his seat is to lose to a Republican. He's still on our list, but dropped a bit from a '9/10' to a '4/10.' You can read more about the methodology for that here!

  •  The way you measure progressive voting: (0+ / 0-)

    It's obviously not perfect (as rarely nothing is), but if you define specific members of the House that are essentially the definition of progressive, then take that crew -- and, for each vote, define 'progressive' as whatever the majority of that group supports or opposes seems to work well.

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