Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Salt Lake Tribune Calculates Combined "Red-Blue" Legislative Scorecard For Utah State Legislature; Rep. Carl Wimmer The Most Conservative

The Salt Lake Tribune combined the 2011 legislative scorecards of five different Utah watchdog groups, standardized them, and compiled a master "Red-Blue" scorecard, publishing the results on April 19th, 2011. Read the Tribune story, then view the combined scorecard HERE. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this article is to provide prospective voters with another means to hold lawmakers accountable.

To no one's surprise, the legislature leans right. Overall, the legislature scored a median of 73 this year, or well to the political right. This assumes a score of 100 for most conservative, and a score of 0 for most liberal. Rep. Carl Wimmer (R-Herriman) graded out the most conservative with a rating of 90.6. Wimmer said he doesn't deliberately go out of his way to align himself with watchdog groups, but that his votes simply reflect personal principle. Wimmer believes in minimum government and maximum liberty.

Three of the five watchdog groups chosen tend to be conservative; the Utah Taxpayers Association, Grass Roots, and Parents For Choice. The other two tend to be liberal; Sierra Club of Utah and the Utah Education Association. Each group's individual scorecard is available at the following links:

-- Utah Taxpayers Association scorecard
-- Grass Roots scorecard
-- Parents For Choice scorecard
-- Utah Education Association scorecard
-- Sierra Club of Utah
---- Senate scorecard
---- House scorecard

One group which should have been included by the Tribune is Utahns for Immigration Reform & Enforcement (UFIRE). Their ratings for state legislators are available HERE.

Methodology: The highest numbers are the most conservative, the lowest numbers the most liberal. The Tribune was able to take the ratings directly from the three conservative groups and use them as is. However, the two liberal groups assign the highest numbers to the most liberal lawmakers, so the Tribune had to flip those numbers around, or invert them, to make them consistent. Then they simply added up all the numbers and divided by five to get the overall ratings.

Noteworthy Findings:

-- The Tribune's ratings reflect the pronounced blue-red split between Salt Lake City and the rest of the state. The four lowest ranking senators are all Democrats representing Salt Lake City districts. Six of the lowest ranking representatives are Democrats who hail from Salt Lake City districts. In contrast, the highest ranking lawmakers are Republicans who tend to represent Utah County, Davis County, southwest Salt Lake County, and St. George.

-- Surprisingly, Rep. Stephen Sandstrom (R-Orem), a noteworthy illegal immigration hawk, graded out only at 58.2 overall. Dragging Sandstrom down was a high 60 percent from the Utah Education Association, which inverted to 40 percent for this survey, and a relatively low 64 percent from the Utah Taxpayers Association.

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