American Blogger: Introducing PIE! Scores

by: Populista

Sat Jul 05, 2008 at 22:14


(This week's winner! - promoted by Paul Rosenberg)

 The voters hit the polls and the people decided in the fifth American Blogger contest. And the winner was PIE! (Progressive Investment Effectiveness) You can read my original comment here. Essentially it is a idea to develop a system (PIE! Scores) to determine which candidates progressive small donors should donate to if they want their money to be most effectively used to create progressive change via the political system.

In this post I will go into a bit more detail about the project and then will outline ideas for criteria and ask for your brilliant ideas for different criteria! This project won't work if it's just one person working on it, we need as many people as possible to make this a people-powered PIE! project.

First off let me talk a bit more about the project. The idea is to come up with a set of criteria on which to determine how effective small dollars would be in bringing progressive change, then each candidate running a semi-competitive challenge gets assigned a PIE! Score. Hopefully progressive small donors will look at those PIE! Scores when they are making their donations and progressives will be more effective in making change via the electoral system.

The criteria I originally proposed were:

1. Seats Where We Can Make the Most Progress: Crisitunity of Swing State Project has developed a method of predicting in which races replacing the incumbent with the challenger would produce the largest right to left swing in voting. You can view the House edition here and the Senate edition here. Debbie Cook in CA-46  and Andrew Rice in OK-Sen would earn the most points in this category while Becky Greenwald in IA-04 and Jim Slattery in KS-Sen would fare the worst.

2. Likelihood of victory: Investing in races where Democrats are already heavily favored (Mark Warner in VA-Sen) or where Democrats don't seem like they have a chance (Wyoming's Senate races for example) is not a very good use of money. In this we would factor in a number of considerations to determine what the likelihood of victory in each race is. Races that are tossups or competitive (AK-Sen or NM-01 for example) would earn the highest points while races that seem safe (NY-13, NM-Sen) or very tough (CA-46, GA-Sen) earn less. We would have to come up with a exact system for this. Potentially we could average out the rankings of the Swing State Project, Cook Political Report, Chris Bowers and Nate Silver, something like that.

3. Money's effectiveness: In Alaska when you advertise all the money is being spent on getting your message in front of potential voters eyes. In say IL-10 when you advertise on TV your spending lots of money reaching people who live in the Chicago area but not in your district. Therefore races with cheap media markets that predominantly reach potential voters (NE-Sen, WY-AL) get high points while races that have expensive media markets that don't just reach your voters (VA-Sen, IL-10) get lower marks.

4. Progressive Leadership Bonus: We also want to elect progressive leaders. People who have endorsed the Responsible Plan (Darcy Burner), put out statements against FISA (Tom Perriello), worked for progressive movement organizations (Andrew Rice) or showed other tendencies that indicates they would be a progressive leader in Congress (Al Franken) would get extra bonuses. For example Tom Perriello was a original signer of the Responsible Plan, put out statements against FISA and worked for a movement organization (Avaaz.org) so he would score very well. Someone like Ronnie Musgrove (MS-Sen) who has showed signs of being a very unprogressive leader (like pushing to put the Ten Commandments in public places) would not get any bonus here.  

Populista :: American Blogger: Introducing PIE! Scores
So let's say the first three criteria each earn you up to 30 points for being the best in that criteria and as low as 0 if you are one of the worst in the criteria and you get a 3 point bonus for each of the first three progressive leadership bonus's and 1 for other signs of progressive leadership.

Andrew Rice would get a 30 from category 1 because he scored the highest among Senate challengers, OK-Sen isn't considered a tossup (such as AK-Sen which would give it a 30 score) but it isn't considered completely hopeless (a 0 such as WY-Sen) because of Inhofe's low approval ratings, general insanity and Rice's strong campaign so I would give Rice a 10 in this category, Oklahoma is a very effective media market so I'd give him a 30 there and he gets a 3 point bonus for founding the Progressive Alliance Foundation and an additional point for his aggressive netroots outreach and being on the record calling himself a progressive Democrat.

So Andrew Rice would get a PIE! Score of 74. We'd have to calculate for all the candidates but I'd guess that's a fairly good score.

Get how it works now? Kind of? Well now I want YOUR ideas for criteria. Are the current ones good? have a idea for a new one? Also, Do you think the 30-30-30-10 split for weighting each criteria is a good system? Do you have any ideas for other areas to award Progressive Leadership Bonus's?

Please speak up then! After we decide the criteria I will post once or twice a week with one of the criteria and the community can help refine each one. For example we will need to decide how to determine the likelihood of victory.

So please make suggestions, give feedback and let's have some PIE!

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PIE!!!!!
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Cherry, With Vanilla Ice Cream (4.00 / 2)
I like the general idea a lot, and I'm a bit distracted with everything else on my plate.  So I hope others will chime in with suggestions for refining it.  Even if you end up with exactly the same thing in the end, going through the process of looking at alternatives and debating the options will give you greater confidence in the end product.

So, let the debate begin!

p.s. I think Debbie Cook's being rated too low.  The guy who ran against Rohrbacher the last two times is a really nice guy, but he didn't have a governing track record and base like Cook has.  Maybe she hasn't earned it yet, but there is real potential here, and I think it's just a matter of time before she does.  So keep an eye on this one.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


Too low on what? (0.00 / 0)
Likeliness to win?

I do think she has a pretty good shot but her fundraising hasn't been amazing and it's a really expensive district so it's hard to tell and most of the rankings that I've seen show her pretty low.

I do think she has a great shot and I'd LOVE to see her win though.  

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power


[ Parent ]
I Don't Really Know About the California Democrtatic Party (0.00 / 0)
Not a great track record when it comes to pulling together to pick off vulnerable Reps.  Considering how much money gets thrown around this state, the underfunding of credible challengers just should not be happening, yet it's a recurrent problem.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
She says she's met her 2Q goal (0.00 / 0)
She says she's met her 2Q goal.  I think she's really good but we need to see her 2Q vs Rohrabacher's.  It may be enough, in which case she'd be a high scorer. And see my comment below.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Since I was born in HB .. (0.00 / 0)
I second your Debbie Cook comment .. she'd get the special pass from me

[ Parent ]
longshot? (0.00 / 0)
Debbie Cook has a difficult struggle ahead in the California 46th. In 2002, Dana Rohrabacher beat Gerrie Schipske by a margin of 62-35. In 2004, he beat Jim Brandt by 62-33. In 2006 he beat Brandt again, this time by 60-37. Perhaps the tide is beginning to turn, but oh so slowly. I think this district may take several races to win, even in a good case scenario. It probably needs the infusion of some Long Beach territory to become really viable for a Democrat.

But I'd be delighted to eat crow in November.


[ Parent ]
Were Brandt and Schipske .. (0.00 / 0)
good candidates? .. or just sacrifical lambs at the time?

[ Parent ]
More info on the race? (4.00 / 1)
Paul--you once said you live very close to CA-46.  Can you give some more info on the race, especially Rohrabacher's chances this year?  My recollection is that he is close to the defense industry, which may not be the cash cow it once was, and of course GOP fundraising isn't what it was.  She seems much more dynamic a challenger, with a real political base.  Your thoughts?

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
I'm not Paul (4.00 / 2)
But I cover these things fairly closely for Calitics, and I interviewed Cook back in April.

She is running Loretta Sanchez' campaign from 1996 when she beat B-1 Bob Dornan.  She's got an aggressive canvassing strategy and a good communications team.  Cook's top issue is energy and peak oil, and in this time of economic struggle she's very well-positioned to deliver that message.  I think she needs to get more votes out of the Long Beach portion of the district than anyone ever has, hold her own in her base of Huntington Beach (where she's the Mayor), and pick up disaffected Republicans everywhere else.  Rohrabacher has been a lazy fundraiser this year - she beat him in Q1 (40K-36K).  But he has a lot more in the bank.

I rate this the #3 or #4 race in the state, with CA-04 (Charlie Brown), CA-26 (Russ Warner) and CA-45 (Julie Bornstein) in the same mix.  We definitely have a shot.

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[ Parent ]
More emphasis on progressive leadership. (4.00 / 3)
   Also for category 4, there could be negative points for being an anti-progressive leader.  People like Lunsford, Musgrove, and Bright should lose a lot of points.  Otherwise, great.

John McCain lets lobbyists shape his economic policy

Category 4 is the most important (4.00 / 1)
Not the least. Too much focus on categories 1-3 will result in a similar line of thinking to that already employed by the DCCC.

We need a system of ranking that prioritizes candidates like Darcy Burner because the absence of actual progressive leadership (as demonstrated by the likes of Kucinich and Feingold) is the principal problem of our government.


[ Parent ]
How do you think it should go about doing that? (0.00 / 0)
Do you think a 25 for all split would be fair? Even more for progressive leadership?  

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

[ Parent ]
I would not recommend trying to "weight" any of the criteria used... (0.00 / 0)
unless there is an objective "common denominator" means of evaluating their importance relative to one another.

In other words, if there isn't a quantitative apples-to-apples way to say that "progressive leadership" is x times more or less of a priority than say "", then it's not a good idea to introduce bias into the evaluation system.  

This has come up a great deal in my profession, which is sustainability consulting.  We're struggling to compare apples and oranges in rating and ranking environmental performance for organizations (or cities, or nations).  One criterion might be global warming impact (measured in CO2, or the reduction thereof), and another water pollution impact (measured in contaminant, etc.).  There isn't a way to objectively weight the importance of these two things - it depends on your values.  

The exception is where a common denominator can be found.  "Ecological footprinting" is one approach in sustainability research that converts these disparate types of impacts into the common denominator of land (in acres), and then they are comparable (and can be weighted accordingly).  

I see no obvious way to do this here - so I say, make it an even split between criteria.  Folks can still prioritize as they wish to, as long as you break out the individual criteria scores (hell, share an Excel file, then they can sort and weight progressive leadership as high as they want and recalc!).  


[ Parent ]
Hmm (0.00 / 0)
I know we all don't like them and it's pretty clear they are not progressive but how could we define a "anti-progressive leader"

Flirting with running as a Republican? Donating to Republicans? Having anti-progressive records? What do you think the requirement should be?

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power


[ Parent ]
It's subjective of course. (0.00 / 0)
   But it's just the inverse of the criteria for progressive leadership.  Those are good criteria you have in your comments, as those are the most heinous of offenses (Lunsford and Bright are guilty of each).  But those are just anti-Democratic criteria.  Anti-progressive criteria should include things like support for FISA, or general issue-free campaigning (Anne Kirkpatrick in AZ-01 is an excellent example of that).  Actually, the more I think about it, bad Democrats are usually obvious when they campaign because they don't take sides on issues.  Charlie Stuart in FL-08 is another example.  

   Also, I've read the comments in your diary on swing state project, and I have to say I can't agree with their logic which posits that we should put more emphasis on senate races.  First of all, we have much more power to affect house races.  Secondly, I don't buy their obsession with "60 seats" in the senate.  It's obvious that progressives don't have a working majority in the House either.  With a Democratic president, there will a better chance for more progressive House bills to be passed.  But we have to get a more progressive House first.  The Senate will have less leverage to obstruct when there's a trifecta.  Furthermore, their math is unnecessarily complicated.

John McCain lets lobbyists shape his economic policy


[ Parent ]
20-20-20-40 (0.00 / 0)
There's a lot of money around. Corporate PACs can and will fund people like Hagan and Musgrove to make sure they get their pork. Our aims are different and for this cycle at least, the situation is favourable to us. Plus in the Senate especially it is important to have somebody who won't just vote the right way, they'll make a nuisance of themselves to push forward good ideas and hold up bad ones.

We can afford to be picky. People who are less picky probably aren't likely to be assessing their choices against a system like PIE anyway.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog


[ Parent ]
On Progressive Leadership (4.00 / 2)
Maybe you should make the progressive leadership bonus points, so that the total amount of points is actually over a 100 score.  The point of that category should be to promote the candidates we know will be leaders in Congress and who will respect and respond to the netroots.  Right now it's treated as a regular category but I think you should consider adding extra points for our true friends like Darcy Burner or Eric Massa.

Otherwise, this looks GREAT!  I'm really excited to see how all of this goes, and I'm sure we'll have a lot of interesting, quantitative debate about candidate scores.


I think making it add on points (0.00 / 0)
might be a little confusing. But after thinking about it and hearing all the great input I do think it should be a larger part of the score. Perhaps 25-25-25-25 or maybe even 30 for leadership and only 20 for number 2.  

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

[ Parent ]
Here's the question (0.00 / 0)
What's our goal?  Is it to support candidates that are more likely to win or help push safe seats into competitive range?  I don't know if you should weight down number 2 but you have to evaluate the weighting, because it sounds like the highest score on that variable is a middle ground.  It might make more sense to figure out the ideal type of competitive race, whether it's a bit more likely to switch or a bit less likely.  I think we should target races that are slightly less competitive than average, to grow candidate loyaly (like a Carol Shea Porter or Nancy Boyda, for example).

[ Parent ]
Evaluation (4.00 / 2)
1. I would like to see greater points for the progressive bonus - 15 points. If we want more AND better democrats, I feel this should carry more weight. I would take these additional points from Category 2: Likelihood of Victory  as Cat. 2 seems to be the area where electability arguments can be made that are more subjective than objective or swayed by personal or out of district opinion. This would also keep the scale at 100 points total.

2. In order to make this scale as meaningful and reputable as possible, I feel a rubric with specific criteria spelled out under each category that is as objective as possible is critical. In a sense, this would represent "internals" that anyone could review for this rating. In this way there would be little if any manipulation possible based on personal biases or outside district influences. So for example, Category 2: Likelihood of Victory could look like this:

Cat. 3: Likelihood of Victory: 25 points:
 2.1: Minimum Fundraising Benchmark Achieved: 5 points
 2.2: COH parity with opponent: 5 points
 2.3: District Partisan Index: 5 points
 2.4: Strength of Opponent: 5 points
 2.5: Campaign Organization/Staff: 3 points
 2.6: Volunteer Base/Groundgame: 2 Points
 2.7: Netroots Support: 1 Point

These criteria are just quick examples for illustration and will obviously need a great deal of tweaking. Certainly some are more objective than others. However, by awarding points this way, overall category scores are limited in their subjectivity and standards can be reached for each criteria point awarded based on agreed upon standards.

Hope this is helpful.

If teaching is so easy, then by all means get your degree, pass your certification test(s), get your license, and see if you can last longer than the five years in the classroom 50% of those who enter the profession never make it to.


Perhaps (0.00 / 0)
Make it a even 20-20-20-20 and cut the Minimum Fundraising Benchmark Achieved since it's hard to tell what that is and is subject to supporter spinning.

Great ideas though. Make sure be here for the discussions of all the categories, you have some great ideas!

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power


[ Parent ]
Connection to our Better Democrats List (0.00 / 0)
I really like these criteria, but think that 1 and 4 should be applied on a sort of slifding scale basis, so someone in a red district with a really bad opponent can score wwell even if not as progressive as someone in a less conservative district.  But overall they are very good criteria.

Mostly I think we should integrate these criteria into the make-up of the site's Better Democrats list to the extent that's possible, rather than develop whole new list.  We are going to revamp the Better Dems list after the 2Q fundraising reports are in and after the Georgia primary, beginning some additions towards the end of the month and more in August.

We already have Darcy Burner, Tom Perriello, Eric Massa, Sam Bennett in the House and Jeff Merkley in the Senate.  Regina Thomas will be off if she doesn't win the primary (not looking too likely), and Donna Edwards really doesn't need the money now.  So we are really looking at people in addition to Darcy, Tom, Eric, Sam and Jeff--they don't need any more mentions.

And while we all want winners, we probably don't want to put more money into the "Lean Dem" R seats (Li-ll, NY-13 and 25, VA-11) at this point, or into the races where there is going to be so much money spent that our additions are swamped.  We can get an idea of some of those races from the 2Q reports.

I have to go out and don't have time to do the calculations now, but this is a very useful and helpful exercise.  Of course Chris and Matt have the last word, but I'm kind of coordinating the input to them at this point.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.


Well (0.00 / 0)
the idea is that these PIE! Scores would be taken into consideration by EVERYONE, ActBlue pages, individual donors. Everyone.

So I'm not sure what the final outcome of this will be but I would hope it would be taken into consideration by the Better Democrats page.  

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power


[ Parent ]
Yes but (0.00 / 0)
Some of the other places have different criteria and issues, and I think we here are the closest to this thinking.  Not that everyone shouldn't take it into account, but we certainly will.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Stuff the anti-Southern bigotry (0.00 / 0)
I've had it with the Yankee bigotry towards Southerners on these left-wing blogs.

Ronnie Musgrove did a hell of a job of running Mississippi.  And if you have such a terror of posting historical documents asking you to "love thy neighbor" then just get the hell over it.  Egads, a pro-life Democrat?  EEEEK!!!!

Screw the Employee Free Choice Act, green technology research funding, CHIP expansion, repeal of NCLB, a real federal commitment to shore up science and math programs in rural schools, tougher weapons of mass destruction cargo inspections, and actually living by the Constitution while ending an unjust war.  We can't let another evangelical Protestant win on the Democratic ticket!

Lest we forget, Mr. Musgrove wasn't stomping all about the state demanding that the Confederate flag emblem stay on the state flag like Republican Sonny Perdue did when he ran for governor in 2002 against Democrat Roy Barnes in Georgia.  

Perhaps if Mr. Barnes had won re-election then his efforts at establishing a sane water reservoir building and water conservation program by the state of Georgia would have been enacted and the current crisis drought bringing Atlanta to its knees would not be quite such a problem.

If you'd rather deal with GOP Rep. Wicker as a US Senator then you really need to grow up and cope with reality.  Social conservatives like Ronnie Musgrove are no problem for the Democratic Party.  After all, when have you lifestyle liberals called for ousting Bob Casey from the Senate Democratic caucus?  Oh, could it be because he is a Yankee catholic and not a Southern evangelical?

I'd like to lay down a formal challenge.  Please list some systematic attack on labor or blatant racist antagonism performed by Mr. Musgrove in his role as Governor of Mississippi or shut up about this social conservative twaddle once and for all.


I support Musgrove (4.00 / 1)
I think he would make a far better senator then Rodger Wicker and I suspect he will fare fairly well in this system.

Just beacuse I disagree with him on some issues I'm anti-southern?

Ronnie Musgrove is not a problem for the Democratic Party. Period. Anyone who claims that is flat out wrong. However you have to understand a lot of people here want to focus their donations towards candidates who are closer to their values. Personally I think Tom Perriello who is running for Congress in Virgina is more likely to share my values then Ronnie Musgrove. If I had unlimited money would I donate to both of them? Yes. But I don't. I have limited resources and so I donate to candidates who I think share my values.

And quite frankly calling people a Yankee and a lifestyle liberal without having any idea who they are is quite unproductive.

P.S. Roy Barnes was one of the best governors Georgia has had. Hopefully he makes a comeback in 2010. Georgia would be better off if he did.

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power


[ Parent ]
Denigrating the entire region makes one anti-Southern (0.00 / 0)
The type of 'leaders' you listed in Category 4 simply don't exist in the South because the culture that spawned them doesn't exist down here.  

Those like Andrew Rice or Claire McCaskill from border states like Oklahoma or Missouri or Jim Webb or Alex Sink from states like Virginia or Florida, both effectively de-Southernized by Yankee and foreign immigration, don't have to deal with the same headaches that the rest of do.  

To write off countless future Southern leaders on everything from sustainable and family farm/local community friendly agricultural practices (a HUGE issue in the South) to rebuilding our crippled military in the wake of the war invented by our Connecticut-born President to supporting domestic manufacturing industries decimated by GOP 'free trade' mistakes because those future leaders don't embrace political positions on social issues THAT THEIR CONSTIUENTS OVERWHELMINGLY DON'T EMBRACE is the natural outgrowth of a silly and counter-productive bigotry against the South.  

We don't ask that you agree with us but don't lecture us on how to experience reality.

No, Musgrove won't be the grand champion of unfettered abortions in the Senate.  If you think you'll do any better with Wicker then you need to grow up.  

Musgrove will probably shove the issue as far back on the stove as he can get it while Wicker will demonize women like you, Populista, in order to win re-election (see the 2002 Georgia governor's race).  

That is precisely the reason to prioritize the election of socially conservative Democrats in the South.  They will be with us on the priorities that matter (like pushing expanding CHIP long before they ever try to push anti-choice bills) and help blunt the bad bills by simply removing the partisan advantage the GOP gets in shoving them so hard.  

After all, what is the help of pushing a GOP wedge issue like abortion in a Southern state where the moderate pro-life Democratic incumbent has already proved his 'cred' on the issue with pro-life voters (who are the vast majority in Mississippi, BTW) while expanding pre-natal care access to low income women and forcing publicly-funded 'crisis pregnancy centers' to offer every non-abortion medical service provided by Planned Parenthood clinics via MDs and RNs who are forced by law to provide medically accurate information about pregnancy, birth control and abortion, as well as referrals to facilities that offer abortions?  The loony fringe would vote GOP anyway but most Southern voters would feel more comfortable with the Democratic incumbent.

That is how you defang the divisive issue, Populista, and many others like it.  Don't try to make us into Yankees, it won't work.


[ Parent ]
Oh, bullshit (0.00 / 0)
Obviously you feel very strongly about this. But you're talking crap.

This is a programme to decide who would be the best progressive investment choices, not to cast southern Democrats into a burning lake of fire.

No, there aren't many socially progressive southern Democrats who can win statewide, and that's a shame. And yes, Musgrove's focus on economic issues should hopefully help to damp down GOP wedge issues (although that is of course dependent on congressional leaders keeping votes like that from reaching the floor).

But economics is not everything. Musgrove will not actively defend a woman's right to choose. He won't support a hate-crimes bill protecting gays and lesbians. He'd probably go for the FISA compromise. And those things are important to most of us. And if we can't find a candidate in the south who will support us on them, why shouldn't we prioritise candidates elsewhere? It's not like Musgrove lacks a rolodex anyway.

And please, stop with the reverse snobbery against Yankees. You may resent what you feel is condescension, but if I'm a reasonable barometer (I'm not a Yankee, but my geographic circumstances are broadly comparable) then such blanket dismissals are more likely to produce a less than rational contempt. And that cheapens both parties.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog


[ Parent ]
I don't like social conservatism (0.00 / 0)
The fact of the matter is, that the South IS more conservative than the rest of the country. Sure, there are many great progressive politicians from the South, such as Cynthia McKinney, John Lewis, Steve Cohen etc, and I love them all. But the majority of Southern politicians are socially conservative, the ideology which I detest. For example, is it a coincidence that 6 to 8 of 10 states that have the least proportion of women in their state legislature are in the South, while none of the top 10 states in that regard are Southern?

It is bigotry if I don't like a Southern politician only because he/she is from the South. But it is just my professing my political opinion, if I don't like the majority of the politicians from the South because of their conservatism. For me, women's right to choose is probably the most important factor in deciding who I support. I can't donate my money or time to anyone who are anti-choice, and honestly, I cringe at the idea of anti-choice Democrat.  Sure, Musgrove is better than Wicker, but he has a terrible record on mixing religion with politics, and condemned ACLU for its secular stance. He is NOT pro-choice. (so I can't support Casey either.) It is not anti-Southern bigotry; I'm just standing up for my values, social progressivism.  


[ Parent ]
Blow off the foam and look at the coffee, liberallatte (0.00 / 0)
First, a reality check.  The South has fewer women in its legislatures because Southern states typically have the loosest campaign finance restrictions in the country coupled with a political system that treats what is essentially a full time job as a part time hobby.  For example, Texas legislators are paid $7,200 per YEAR with a miserly per diem when the legislature is in session (well, miserly by the standards of the cost of living in Austin).  

Couple that with ethics laws that block office holders from using campaign donations to pay for frivolities like food and shelter in the state capitol city (often hundreds of miles from home) during legislative sessions that can drag on for nearly a year in some states, let alone paying personal bills for things like child care that build up when one is not independently wealthy and cannot spend one's time working at one's chosen profession, and the region with the most inegalitarian distribution of wealth in the country has a harder time recruiting women to run for office.

That lethal combination favors the political fortunes of self employed individuals (doctors, lawyers, insurance salesmen, real estate brokers) who have strong ties to special interests with lots of cash.  Women are under-represented in this dubious elite in most states, not just the South.

Southern states like Texas have begun to reverse that tide by forming state level equivalents of Emily's List.  Texas is proud to have Annie's List (named after the first woman in Texas history to be elected to statewide office, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Annie Webb Blanton, in 1918).  

The first candidate the group supported, by the way, was Houston City Councilwoman Annise Parker, an out lesbian, in her successful city-wide race for Houston City Controller in 2003.  Parker is widely expected to run for Houston Mayor in 2009 when the incumbent leaves office to run for the Democratic nomination for Texas governor in 2010.  

Annie's List has already endorsed her campaign for Mayor.  http://www.annieslist.org  

But to the point of your post.  Yes, the South has sent forth a few liberal African American politicians or at least liberal politicians from African American districts in recent years.  That in no way excuses the nut cases who have scraped into office.  

We cannot replace the lunatics without the help of Yankees, much though it pains me to admit it.  But therein lay the rub: the secular Yankees want to replace them with other secular Yankees who just happen to speak with the more pleasing Southern accent.  

That ain't gonna happen, kids.  There is a reason we refuse to move up North, and it has a lot more to do with the folks up there than the crappy weather.  (Seriously, cars rusting out from road salt?  Just move already.)  

We prefer a more meaningful life, not one as cold and antiseptic as the barren ideals championed by secularists.  Don't forget that Roman catholicism blooms verdant in South alongside the many strains of Protestantism, both liturgical and evangelical.

If you cannot overcome your distaste for that and help us elect more moderate evangelical Protestants then the extremists will probably keep scraping through to victory with distressing frequency.  They will continue to inflict their narrow and mean spirited agenda on you through Congressional action (see 1994-2006).  

If you really dislike Southern social conservatism then actively try to elect the most moderate practitioners of it as a firewall against the more extreme variety.


[ Parent ]
Problems with the System (0.00 / 0)
I think you are trying to create a straight jacket of empiricism out of a matter which really does not lend itself to being converted into numbers and counted at this juncture.

An intelligent supporter should try to learn a good deal more about the narrative of a particular candidate in terms of a state or district as you select where you are going to send extra dimes.  These things are not all that easily measured and converted into numbers.  Let me give you an example....

Two years ago, Progressives were encouraged to send money to Patty Wetterling in Minnesota's 6th District, who was running against Arch Conservative (Anti-public education among other things) Michelle Backman.  Backman won by 8 points.  Now I didn't drink the Wetterling Kool-Aid, because I know that district pretty well, and there was no way Wetterling was going to win it.  I like Wetterling, wished her well, and all that -- but she didn't suit that district.  Now this year, the DFL nominated El Tinklenberg to run against Backman.  He is hard to catagorize -- at one point he left the DFL Party and became Transportation Commissioner in Jesse Ventura's administration -- now he is a DFL'er again.  But Jesse has endorsed him, and Jesse's party the Independents cross endorsed him -- and two years ago Wetterling lost by 8 points -- and the Independence Party Endorsee got 8% of the votes.  

Economic conditions are tough in the 6th, which is in part an exurban area with people who drive 50-60 miles one way to jobs in the Twin Cities.  Price of Gas huge issue, but so too is alternative energy as Wind Turbines and Ethnol are big deals in the district.  Backman anti alternatives, Tinklenberg has been an alternative guy for years.  Another issue -- Unions.  Till recently elections to form Unions mostly lost in the 6th District, but in the last year a whole string of them have been successful, particularly some being run by the Service Workers.  The switch from no representation to representation has been between 20 and 30 percent of particular workforces.  That's huge.  The Service Workers are demanding that candidates come and work a day on the job if they want the union endorsement -- Backman has not shown up yet, Tinklenberg is putting a day a week into such a plan to make certain the Rep knows something about actual conditions.  Now El Tinklenberg is not all that Progressive, in fact he is a Lutheran Minister who serves as a supply pastor -- he replaces others when they are absent.  But that also means he has preached in probably 75-100 churches in the district over the years.  But the East end of this district is the heart and soul of Swedish Lutheranism -- and they tend to be socially somewhat liberal and economically conservative, and normally vote Republican.  But they are pissed at Michelle, so that is a factor.  

You can't put numbers to this sort of thing.  I know that Tinklenberg has not tried to connect with, for instance, Move On -- they did too much fundraising for Patty in 06, and created an issue about too much outside funding and influence.  But on Energy Policy, Transportation and Public Education, this guy would be a very decent craftsman in DC, not a Progressive Leader -- but in many areas a solid supporter.  You can't put numbers to this without the narrative.  


But the numbers could help (4.00 / 1)
The point of the system is to create a quicklist where potential progressive donors can contribute to seats where their money will matter the most.  This is not a red to blue guide, this is about progressive candidates.  In your outlined situation, the candidate would get points on likelihood and on partisan difference, but would lose points compared to others on progressive leadership.  So while a narrative can give more information, the scores would still tell a donor that the money towards this seat could help more than one seat but less than another.  It's all about comparison.

[ Parent ]
That's why I argued for a sliding scale (0.00 / 0)
More consideration to a person who's going to take out a bad GOPer, even though they may be less progressive, as befits the district.  

I thinki you are fundamentally right Sara but we need top  give thought how to select th3e races that progressives should put at the top of their donor lists irrespective of where they live.  To do that we need input from people who do live in or are familiar with the various districts.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.


[ Parent ]
Too soon for an Empirical System (0.00 / 0)
Yea -- eventually some sort of quantification might be created, but if the empirical system really doesn't measure the qualities you are looking for in recommending support -- you just spin wheels.  We have no idea what qualities or variables are related to sticking with a Progressive Agenda once elected -- and afterall, that is something that concerns us.  

My own hypothesis is it has something to do with a Progressive Network in the District and/or state, and the kind of mutually supportive relationship a candidate has with that network.  I think the Service Employees are on the right track -- if you want our endorsement, come work in our workplace for a day.  If a candidate keeps up the contact, responds on specific requests or issues, all to the good.  If it is just opportunist -- what can you all do for me? -- then maybe shy away from a quick endorsement and funding.  Progressive endorsements and support will be more respected if they entail a true mutual relationship.  

There are plenty of bloggers and commentators who can do a narrative description on a candidate and district.  Of course there might be bias -- so doing them ought to be a fairly open process.  


[ Parent ]
We should factor in likelihood of holding the seat (4.00 / 1)
I love this idea, so thanks for bringing it up.

I feel that sometimes the netroots falls too much in love with the idea of winning in deep-red territory. It would be great to elect Trauner in WY-AL, for instance, but in a year where the field tilted against the Democrats we would very likely lose that seat.

For that reason, I would rather invest my resources in trying to elect Jeff Merkley to the Senate from Oregon than Begich from Alaska or Kleeb from Nebraska.

I'm not saying we shouldn't support Democrats everywhere, because I do believe in the 50-state strategy. Also, beating the GOP in a deep-red area like MS-01 has benefits for morale and the overall media narrative.

That said, a candidate running in a state or a district where we have a high probability of holding the seat in the long term should get a bonus added to the PIE score.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.


Still valuable (0.00 / 0)
Taking seats, even ones we may well lose thereafter, is still very valuable - it breaks repeated-voter patterns and moves the window for future races.  Folks get used to pulling the same level, otherwise.

[ Parent ]
We picked up 6 seats in the US Senate in 2006 (0.00 / 0)
Casey(PA)and Whitehouse(RI) are Senators for Life. Both of them get re-elected with token GOP opposition.
Brown(OH) will be in a similar situation as Tom Harkin(IA),and Russ Feingold(WI) will face tough GOP competion but will end up defeating his GOP opponent by a comfortable margin.
McCaskill(MO),Tester(MT),and Webb(VA)are the only Democratic incumbents that may face tough race and be vulnerable to defeat.
In 2008.
We are going to pick up VA,NM,NH,and CO.
Warner(VA),Udall(NM),Shaheen(NH),and Udall(CO) are going to be Senators for Life. All of these Senators will get re-elected with token GOP opposition . Allen(ME) and Merkley(OR) will also be re-elected by landslide margins.
Franken(MN) will be facing tough re-election campaign like Feingold,and Harkin but will end up winning.
Begich faces a tough re-election campaign against Governor Sarah Pallin in 2014. Musgrove-MS faces a tough re-election campaign in 2012 to Chip Pickering.  

[ Parent ]
"Money's Effectiveness" criterion - several thoughts (0.00 / 0)
1) Regarding media markets: as of this morning we have a bit of objective analysis from Nate Silver over at fivethirtyeight.com - check it out!

2) A separate point I want to introduce is that "money effectiveness" is not just about media markets.  Can we come up with any objective ways to evaluate the usefulness of money spent in other ways?  I'm thinking about labor, full-time hires, mailings, etc. - I'm not sure, but I want to raise this because it depresses me to think exclusively about my hard-earned dollars being spent on marginally-effective TV ads.

3) A final issue regarding money which I've heard Matt emphasize here before, is that there's a temporal curve to its effectiveness - early in campaign cycles, it buys staff, initial press, etc., while late, it buys TV ads with continually diminishing returns and narrower targeting.

Should we account for the difference between someone just getting started (for instance, NY-10 primary candidate Kevin Powell), versus someone running a continuous campaign since '06 - or do we assume that the gradually diminishing returns on funding will impact all candidates equally?  


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