Memo To LCV: It’s “Conservation,” Not “Conservative.”

October 20th, 2008at 08:42pm Posted by Eli

Stoller observe that the League of Conservation Voters are, not to put too fine a point on it, wankers:

I wanted to look at… whether according to their own criteria the League of Conservation voters is fair to Democrats.  The LCV scorecard is the major scorecard for the environmental movement, this is their measure of how friendly to the environment a candidate is, a selection of key votes that set goals for the large and sprawling set of green groups.  So one would expect them to treat all candidates the same and judge them strictly according to votes (with some wiggle room based on the type of district).  If you are a Democrat and the LCV endorses a Republican, too bad, the Republican is good on the environment and LCV looks at politicians without fear, favor, or partisanship.  We wanted to test whether that’s actually how LCV operates.


Basically, what the data suggests is that LCV has two sets of standards, one for Democrats, who have to meet a certain bar for support, and one for Republicans, who have to meet a lower bar for support.

Democratic Mean LCV lifetime score: 88
Republican Mean LCV lifetime score: 66

+22 advantage for Republicans


Here are some more facts:

  • Every single endorsed Democrat except one has a lifetime score above 80.  Every single endorsed Republican except one has a lifetime score below 80.
  • Every single endorsed Democrat in an even or Democratic district had a 2008 score above 90.  Every single endorsed Republican in an even or Democratic district had a 2008 score below 90.
  • Endorsed Republicans are in districts that are 1.4% more Republican than endorsed Democrats.

It turns out that LCV doesn’t use its scorecard to make endorsements.  Judged by the data, Republicans have a consistent advantage when seeking the endorsement of this group.  Put another way, the League of Conservation voters is willing to endorse Republicans that are less friendly to the environment according to their own criteria simply because they are Republicans.

One can argue over whether single issue groups should treat Democrats better because they vote for a more progressive leadership of committees.  In fact, conservative groups tend to treat leadership votes as part of their checklist, and I think that’s probably a good idea for progressive groups as well.  Still, this argument is not actually the one we’re having.  I’m wondering whether there can possibly be an excuse for treating Democratic politicians worse than Republican politicians.  That seems to me to simply be a broken organizational model.

… If the way that LCV operates is a standard model for left-wing groups, it occurs to me that both right-wing and left-wing single issue groups give Republicans an advantage.  The conservatives help Republicans by considering leadership votes as part of their endorsement process, and Democrats simply cannot compete with Republicans on that score.  This is reasonable; Tom Delay is better for the NRA than Nancy Pelosi.  But liberal groups systematically boost Republicans by some arbitrary amount based on a perceived need to have access to ‘moderate Republicans’.

In other words, don’t expect to get credit for voting liberal if you’re a Democrat, but do expect to get credit for only being crazy some of the time if you are a Republican.

This is reminiscent of NARAL’s disgraceful praise (and subsequent electoral endorsement) of Joe Lieberman for voting against Alito after voting in favor of cloture to kill the Democratic attempt at a filibuster.  Willful blindness is not a winning strategy.

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Democrats,Environment,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

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