Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It’s Hard Out Here For A RINO

The election was hard on Minnesota Republicans of all stripes. In the state legislature, Republicans lost 19 of 68 seats in the House and 6 of 29 seats in the state Senate. The question many have been asking is whether the voters were harder on more conservative or more liberal Republicans. Would Republicans have done better had they moved more to the left?

I decided to take a look at the data to see if I could find some answers. I used the ratings from the Taxpayers League of Minnesota as a reliable gauge of a legislator’s fiscal conservatism (specifically, the average of their 2005 and 2006 ratings). I also looked at the difference in the 2005-06 ratings from the legislator’s lifetime rating to see whether there were any advantages to Republicans who swerved to the left over the last two years.

The average ratings for Republicans in the legislature shows that they have been voting more liberally over the last two years, especially so in 2006. The average rating for Republicans in the House was 70 in 2005 and a mere 57.9 in 2006 (0 is the lowest, most fiscally liberal rating and 100 is the highest, most fiscally conservative rating). The average of the two was a decline of 10.2 from the legislator’s average lifetime rating. In the Senate the numbers were 84.1 in 2005, 59.3 in 2006 and the change from the lifetime rating was a decline of 8.5. So, our first indication is that the Republican Party has been fleeing from fiscal conservatism, especially over the last year.

Now let’s look at the ratings of the Republicans who won (or for those who did not run for reelection, had their seat retained by a Republican) versus those whose seats were lost. In the House, the winners had and average rating of 65.4 versus 60.1 for the losers. The losers were also more likely to have voted more liberally on fiscal issues over the last year (winners an average of 9.2% below their lifetime rating and losers and average of 12.6% below – see chart 1).
Chart 1

RINOs in the Senate did fair better than there counterparts in the House by this measure. The average rating of Senators who won was 71.1 while it was 74.3 for the losers. But we will take a closer look to see if perhaps these numbers are misleading.

Chart 2

One trouble with this analysis is that many of the lost seats were in politically balanced districts where the rising Democratic tide could result in a candidate’s loss regardless of the candidate’s record. In an attempt to correct for this, I looked at the change in the percentage of the candidate’s margin of victory from the previous election. I split the members of each caucus in half based on their Taxpayers League Rating and calculated the change in the margin of victory for each half from the previous election.

Here the results show that it definitely did not pay to be a RINO. In the House, the Republicans in the more fiscally conservative half saw their margin of victory diminish by an average of 2.6 percentage points from the 2004 election. The RINO half saw their margin decline by nearly twice that, 4.9 percentage points. In the Senate the effect was even a little more pronounced with the fiscal conservative Republicans losing 5.4 and the more RINO Republicans losing 12. Incumbents running for reelection tend to do much better than candidates running in open seats, but the results are similar if only seats with incumbents running for reelection are considered (see charts 3 and 4).

Chart 3
Chart 4
Governor Pawlenty has brought the Republicans considerably to the left, fiscally, over the last two years with poor electoral results. Although several strong fiscal conservatives like Representative Phil Krinkie and Senator Brian LeClair were defeated, on the whole, fiscal conservatives were better off than their RINO colleagues. After all, why vote for a RINO when there is a real Democrat just down the ballot.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"After all, why vote for a RINO when there is a real Democrat just down the ballot?"

Why indeed? Many Minnesotans decided to vote for the real thing this year.

6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've of course missed the real answer.

The Republicans that won come from more reliably hard line conservative districts. They always vote the Taxpayer League line and it will never hurt them.

The swing districts are always more middle leaning - but still too conservative in this election cycle. That's why they lost.

But if you want to start spreading the message that the GOP has to move to the right, go for it!!!

6:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand......
How's this funny?

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Cirk Kameron said...

I always hate it when comedies try to get all serious on us. With this "very special" episode, NIGP may just have jumped the shark.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Both Sides of the River said...


this article might be of interest to you.

12:31 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home