Sunday, August 23, 2015

Breaking down the Numbers of the Conservative Index

  The Oklahoma Constitution Newspaper has released their 2015 Conservative Index scores. All members of the 2015 legislature were scored for their votes on 10 key pieces of legislation which were selected by a conservative grassroots group(Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee). The group has partnered with The publication for many years, to select the bills so as to monitor action on a broad and balanced spectrum of conservative issues.

  We will break down the numbers in several ways:

Brad who?

  The 55th Oklahoma Legislature is vastly Republican. Only 7 senate Democrats were seated for most of the 2015 regular session. 40 senate Republicans served the entire session. The House of Representatives had 29 Democrats and 72 Republicans who served most or all of the session. Most of the current House Chamber have only served during the Fallin Administration (2011 session). That's an accelerated turnover. The 1990 Term Limits initiative limit members to 12 total years of legislative service. Only 50 of the 101 Representatives served when Brad Henry was governor.

Senate beats the House

The Senate held a higher composite score than the house. On a 100-point scale, the senators held an average 64.21 and median score of 70. The House of Representatives had an average score of 63.81 and a median score of 66.

We compared voting records by several factors, including regions of the state and years of service
Which region of Oklahoma is most conservative?

  The Senators and Representatives were analyzed by region. When comparing the legislators by which congressional district they serve in, we see the following:
Senators, by region:
Cong. Dist. 1: 65.5

Cong. Dist. 2: 66.89
Cong. Dist. 3: 67.89
Cong. Dist. 4: 59.6
Cong. Dist. 5: 61.8

Rural Senators: 64.81
Metro Senators: 63.43
Representatives, by region:
Cong Dist 1: 69.60
Cong Dist 2: 53.71
Cong Dist 3: 69.58
Cong Dist 4: 62.79
Cong Dist 5: 64.10

Rural Composite: 63.86
Metro Composite: 63.74
  So the North and West areas of rural Oklahoma are clearly the most conservative this session.

 Incumbancy Corruption?

 When we break down the chambers by years of service, we find that freshmen enter the Senate as the most conservative, but they quickly drop to the bottom of the charts during their 2nd & 3rd sessions. But those staying in office for 4 or more sessions generally are more conservative than the 'sophomores'.

Senators, by year:
members in 1st session 
( 6 'freshmen'): 71.84
members in 3rd session 
(11 'sophomores'): 62.91
members in 4th or more session
(31 'old vets'): 63.13
Representatives, by year:
members in 1st session
 (21 rookies): 61.24
members in 2nd-3rd session 
(11 'sophomores'): 71.64
members with 4th or more sessions
 (67 'old vets'): 63.33
 In the House of Representatives, we see almost the opposite is true. The freshmen members have been less conservative, but the sophomores are vastly more conservative (on average), and the longer termed members are slightly below the average in both chambers.

The best and worst trends

  We looked at each legislator's current score and compared it with a composite of the previous 2 years of service. Here is a graph of the top gainers and worst slides in conservative voting. This doesn't mean they are the best or worst members. It simply shows whose voting showed the biggest changes compared to their own previous 2 years.
David Van Risseghem

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Most of the current House Chamber have only served during the Fallin Administration

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