Thursday, May 9, 2019

U. S. Senators approval in context of partisan lean

This item from the 538 morning significant digits email caught my attention. (But, of course it would, being a numbers guy.)

+35 PARS
Earlier this week saw the reintroduction of our Popularity Above Replacement Governor scores (or PARG) and now we have Popularity Above Replacement Senator scores (or PARS). Just like PARG, PARS is calculated by taking the difference between a politician’s net approval rating and her state’s partisan lean. Topping the PARS list is Joe Manchin of West Virginia at +35; at the bottom is Mitch McConnell of Kentucky at –36. [FiveThirtyEight]

Here’s the introduction to the featured 538 article, How Every Senator Ranks According To ‘Popularity Above Replacement Senator’

No matter who wins the 2020 presidential election, they won’t be able to get much done if their party doesn’t also win the Senate. Historically, the presidential election results in a given state have tracked closely with the Senate outcome there, and the two are only coming into closer alignment (in 2016, for example, the presidential and Senate outcome was the same in every state). But partisanship isn’t the only factor in Senate races (yet); a senator’s popularity can still make a difference. That’s why, today, we’re unveiling a metric of a senator’s political standing that takes both partisanship and popularity into account.

With the help of Morning Consult, which polls the approval ratings of U.S. senators every quarter, we’ve created a statistic that I’m playfully calling Popularity Above Replacement Senator (PARS). It’s based on the same premise as my Popularity Above Replacement Governor (PARG) statistic1 — that it’s a good idea to think about politicians’ popularity in the context of their states’ partisanship. PARS, like PARG, is calculated by measuring the distance between a politician’s net approval rating (approval rating minus disapproval rating) in her state and the state’s partisan lean (how much more Republican- or Democratic-leaning it is than the country as a whole). Take West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin as an example. According to the latest Morning Consult poll, which covered the first three months of 2019, Manchin had a +5 net approval rating. That may not look like anything special, but it’s actually quite impressive because Manchin is a Democrat in one of the reddest states in the nation (R+30). Accordingly, he leads all senators with a +35 PARS.

With that in mind, I scanned the included table for some select PARS scores.

Our own Kyrsten Sinema (D, AZ) has a net positive approval rating of +12 in a red-leaning state, R+9, getting her a PARS of +21.

An equal number of people disapprove and approve of Martha McSally (R, AZ) giving her a net approval of zero. The state leans Republican, R+9 so she gets a PARS of –9. Bear in mind that her seat will be on the ballot in 2020 as will McConnell’s (who racks up the lowest PARS score of –36).

You might want to scan the table included in the 538 report for the presidential hopefuls’ PARS scores. At the bottom is Elizabeth Warren (D, MA) (+9 D+29 –20). Amy Klobuchar (D, MN) is at the top (+32 D+2 +30).

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