The past few days we’ve been answering some questions regarding legislator metrics. More specifically how legislator metrics are calculated and what they mean in the context of the overall legislative landscape. Due to the relative interest in this data, and the interesting conclusions it warrants, it seemed appropriate to cover legislator metrics in more detail.

Legislator metrics are found on all individual legislator profile pages. We have five primary performance stats—votes with party, votes with majority, sponsored bills passed, vote attendance, and the “ideology” score. In the context of our user base, these five stats are likely the most interesting and relevant to display. The data used for legislator metrics comes directly from all legislator votes. In the case of Montana we have compiled all committee and floor votes per legislator (around 2000 during the 64th session). During the upcoming sessions these numbers will automatically and continuously be updated as votes take place.

Votes with party and votes with majority intend to gauge political affiliation or partisanship. This is calculated using the percentage of votes were the legislator votes with his party members, or the percentage of votes were the legislator votes with the overall majority of the vote.

Sponsored bills passed measures legislator efficiency, or how good they are at passing their own bills. Calculating the percentage passed is fairly straightforward, simply looking at the percentage of bills sponsored that have actually been enacted. In practice, we’ve heard customers using this metric to compare and identify efficient legislators that can be approached and asked to carry their legislation.

Similar to efficiency, we include legislator vote attendance, this is calculated by the percentage of legislator votes that were not absent. While there are obvious exceptions, as state legislative sessions are generally lasting only a few months, there is some expectation elected officials will be present and voting.

Lastly, the “ideology” chart, a bigger picture view of all legislator votes, visualized across all primary voting categories. This calculation is made by analyzing the votes with the party, per category. This can yield a negative result indicating a move across party lines on certain issues. The further right and more red a particular bar on the chart is, more votes have been cast with the Republican majority. Alternatively, the further left and more blue a bar, more votes have been cast with the Democrat majority. It’s important to note this is not actually indicative of legislator ideology, but more so, an overview of their voting record in the context of each party and different categories.

There’s many different ways to use this data, including analyzing performance on an ongoing basis, or to compare and rank legislators within their individual party. Over the course of the 2017 legislative sessions we intend to continue collecting, aggregating, and analyzing this data, releasing reports and visuals of findings. Check back for updates throughout the upcoming session as we continue collecting data and analyzing legislator performance.


The full profile

For any questions, comments, or feedback regarding legislator metrics or how the Statehill legislative affairs management platform can help you maximize your productivity and supercharge your advocacy, get in touch at kjb@statehill.com.