Legislative Scorecards – A Brief (& Unofficial) History

December 13, 2012by Michael OBrien

Filed under: Company News, Legislative Process, Tips and Tricks

Legislative scorecards give advocacy groups and associations a quick way to show voters if their own elected official is “with them or against them” on the issues. It is a difficult topic on the Hill or in State Houses where politicians are often accused of voting to get reelected rather than voting their principles.  But who says those two things are mutually exclusive?

What are the most powerful scorecards? My guess is the scorecards that party leadership keep on their own members. Party leaders need to know how their members will vote on important votes. When the party is whipping votes, knowing a member can be counted on can mean the difference between a good committee chair or moving up the ranks in party leadership or life with the dreaded “RINO” or “DINO” tag.

It wasn’t long before issue advocates learned the value of whipping votes and the true legislative score card was born.  One of the first things I learned as an issue advocate is that the most powerful words I could say to an elected official were, “My organization is scoring this vote.”  It tells a Member of Congress or a state legislator that this issue is important and they had better pay attention.

Scorecards are great for political action committee (PAC) managers as well.  Scorecards give you an easy way to justify your political contributions or demonstrate why it is important for potential donors to support the PAC.

Everyone knows the famous ones – the National Rifle Association, the League of Conservation Voters, Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Democratic Action.

There are now scorecards for every issue and on every level from Congress to your City Council.  They have become so popular, that Project Vote Smart has a section just listing political scorecards.  Just a few that I found that were fun or interesting…

Circus Reform Yes – rating the Minneapolis City Council

Cascade Bicycle Club – rating Washington State legislators

Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council – rating the 112th U.S. Congress

So whether you are an issue advocate or run a political action committee, the legislative score card should be one of the tools in your advocacy tool box.  And it has never been easier for your organization to put together your own score card.

BillTrack50 and Visible Government Online have teamed up to create Legiscore, an interactive scorecard tool that makes it easy for your organization to create a scorecard for your website.  Check out LegiScore and start creating your scorecard today!

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2 WordPress Comments to Legislative Scorecards – A Brief (& Unofficial) History

Michael O'Brien, MOB Advocacy says: June 25, 2015 at 3:54 pm

As an update to this post – BillTrack50 has new and improved interactive score cards. They are easy to set up and have amazing functionality. It has never been easier to show everyone how elected officials are voting on issues important to your organization, stakeholders and members.


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