Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tom Emmer's missed votes

Alliance for a Better Minnesota is currently running an ad highlighting Tom Emmer's habit of missing votes in the legislature. It just so happens that I am currently in the process of compiling all of the legislative votes of all of the current legislators for the formulation of a state level DW-Nominate style scoring system, meaning I just so happen to have a database of all of the roll call votes for the 2010 session and can evaluate these claims.

Anytime you hear "so and so has done a thing X number of times," it's helpful to know what X is relative to Y and Z. In this case Alliance for a Better Minnesota claims that Tom Emmer missed 142 votes of 621 taken, so at the very least it would be nice to know what the average number of votes missed is.

My database includes a total of 650 votes for the 2010 regular session and special session combined (there were two votes that took place in a one day special session) and Tom Emmer missed 147 of those votes. I'm not sure which votes I'm including that Alliance for a Better Minnesota isn't, the link they provide for their source is the same source I used to compile my database.

So while Alliance for a Better Minnesota claims Tom Emmer missed one out of every five votes (it's actually more, over 22% if you figure 142/621) according to my database Tom Emmer "only" missed over 18% of votes. The word only in that sentence is in quotes because Tom Emmer only missed more votes than any other legislator and it's not even close.

Again according to the database I compiled of roll call votes Tom Emmer missed 147, second in missed votes was Doug Magnus with 111 and they're the only two who missed more than 100. The mean number of votes missed was 19, but in a skewed data set like this one mean is not the measure that you want to use for average, median is and the median number of votes missed was 9.

That's rather staggering when put into context, Tom Emmer missed 147 votes and the average legislator missed 9. The z-score, standard deviations from the mean, of Tom Emmer's missed votes is an out of this world 4.61. You could say that Tom Emmer is the Babe Ruth of missing votes.

To be fair to Tom let's just compare him with other Representatives who were running for Governor.

Even among those house members who were also running for Governor, Tom Emmer was the gold standard of missed votes. The guy he beat for the Republican nomination, Marty Seifert missed only 1 vote.

I would say that the missed votes critique is a perfectly fair one and if anything Alliance for a Better Minnesota went easy on Tom Emmer by just focusing on how many votes he missed without putting it in the context of how many votes other legislator's missed.

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