The American Conservative Union has long been the premier organization rating members of Congress on how conservative their voting records are. Recently, ACU began rating state legislators on their voting records, and it just released its second ratings of the Michigan state legislature.
ACU State Ratings 2013--MI
Their PDF is hard to read, so I will summarize the relevant information here.
ACU rated 20 house votes and 16 senate votes from 2012 and 2013. Their timing is curious, since this overlaps distinct legislative sessions. This isn't a big deal for the state senate, which wasn't up for election in 2012, but the composition of the state house changed significantly. Thus some state reps are rated only for 2012 (12 votes) or 2013 (8 votes) Fourteen of the bills are the same for both halves of the legislature. The most common topics for the state house votes were taxes (4 votes), gun rights and hunting (4), and education (3). The most common topic for the state senate votes was gun rights and hunting (5 votes).
ACU Michigan state senate ratings 2012/2013:
100%: Brandenberg, Hune
93-94%: Colbeck, Green, Robertson
88%: Meekhof, Moolenaar, Pavlov, Schuitmaker
81%: Booher, Hildenbrand, Jansen, Pappageorge, Proos, Rocca
75-77%: Caswell, Emmons, Jones, Kowall, Marleau, Richardville, Walker
69%: Hansen, Kahn, Nofs
13%: Andersen, Bieda, Hunter
6%: Gregory, Hood, Hopgood, Johnson, Smith, Whitmer, Young
The average for the Republicans was 78%. The average for the democrats was 9%. The overall average was 59%, which was down slightly from 62% in the previous ratings.
The biggest changes from 2012 were Richardville (-14), Jansen (-13), Green (+17), Walker (-19), Casperson (-16).
Joe Hune repeated his perfect score from before, and was joined by Jack Brandenberg. The lowest-scoring Republican was again Tom Casperson, who put up a pathetic 56%. Next-lowest were Geoff Hansen (tough district), Roger Kahn (tough district, term-limited), and Mike Nofs, who has no excuses. The highest-scoring democrat was John Gleason, who resigned after being elected Genesee County Clerk. He was replaced by the more liberal Jim Ananich (25%).
Notably, the democrats are almost all solidly liberal, while the Republican scores are more spread out. Nonetheless, there is a clear partisan divide.
Here are the 2012 scores for comparison.
94%: Brandenberg, Jansen, Pavlov, Robertson, Walker
89%: Colbeck, Emmons, Hildenbrand, Kowall, Meekhof, Richardville
83%: Booher, Jones, Marleau, Moolenaar, Pappageorge, Rocca, Schuitmaker
76-78%: Caswell, Green, Hansen, Kahn, Proos
72%: Casperson, Nofs
11-13%: Andersen, Johnson, Smith, Young
6%: Gregory, Hood, Hopgood, Warren, Whitmer
ACU Michigan state house ratings 2012/2013 (rounded to nearest 5%):
90%: Dianda*, Kelly*, Leonard*, Lund, Olson**, Roy Schmidt**
85%: Franz, Genetski, Goike, Hooker, Huuki**, Knollenberg**, Lafontaine, McMillin, Opsommer**, Somerville
80%: Bumstead, Cotter, Farrington, Haines, Heise, MacGregor, MacMaster
75%: Daley, Damrow**, Gilbert**, Graves, Jenkins, Lauwers*, Moss**, Muxlow, Nesbitt, Ouimet**, Price, Rendon, Schaughnessy**, Shirkey, Verheulen**, Victory**, Yonker
70%: Bolger, Crawford, Haveman, Jacobsen, Johnson, Kowall, Kurtz, O'Brien, Outman, Pettalia, Poleski, Potvin, Pscholka, Rogers, Wayne Schmidt, Stamas, Tyler**, Walsh
65%: Callton, Cochran*, Denby, Foster, Glardon, Howrylak*, Kesto*, Lyons, Pagel*
60%: Forlini, Horn**, Hughes**, McBroom, Zorn
50%: Abed*, Brinks*, Driskell*, Lamonte*, Lavoy*, McCready*, Yanez*
45%: Brunner, Lori, Oakes, Smiley
40%: Faris*, Kivela*, LeBlanc*, Olumba
35%: Dillon, Lane, Stapleton**
30%: Brown, McCann, Nathan, Santana, Segal
25%: Ananich, Banks*, Cavanaugh, Geiss, Greimel, Knezek*, Kosowski, Liss**, Slavens, Zemke*
20%: Clemente, Durhal, Haugh, Hobbs, Lindberg**, Stallworth, Stanley, Talabi
15%: Barnett, Byrun**, Constan**, Hovey-Wright, Irwin, Kandrevas, Lipton, Roberts*, Robinson*, Rutledge, Schor*, Singh*, Tlaib
10%: Bauer**, Bledsoe**, Darany, Hammel**, Howze**, Meadows**, Switalski
0%: Jackson**, Womack**
* assumed office in 2013
** left office after 2012
The house average was 53%. The average for (current) house Republicans was 75%. The average for current house democrats was 29%. Both caucuses were closer to the center that their senate counterparts, particularly the democrats.
In the state house, Dave Agema was again the only member to score 100%. He was term-limited in 2012, and elected Republican National Committeeman that year. Pete Lund scored 90%, along with retiring Rick Olson, and party-switcher Roy Schmidt. The lowest-scoring Republican was Matt Lori (45%). Next-lowest were five scoring 60%.
Democrat Scott Dianda scored a surprising 88% (7/8), after topping a Tea Party scorecard earlier. He scored better than Matt Huuki, the Republican he beat in 2012. Several other newly-elected democrats scored perhaps unreasonably high scores on the eight votes in 2013. Tom Cochran got 63%, and all eight with 50% are democrats.
The largest positive changes were Talabi (+14), Olumba (+38), Stallworth (+16), Nathan (+13), Santana (+24), Cavanaugh (+13), Geiss (+12), Lipton (+15), Greimel (+12), Stanley (+12), Hobbs (+14), Barnett (+15), Smiley (+27), McCann (+12), Segal (+12), Oakes (+27), Brunner (+20). All are democrats.
The largest negative changes were Walsh (-24), Forlini (-22), Townsend (-14), Crawford (-18), Rogers (-18), Kowall (-18), Jacobsen (-18), Denby (-23), Zorn (-22), Jenkins (-13), Lori (-43), O'Brien (-18), Bolger (-18), Poleski (-18), Shirkey (-19), Nesbitt (-13), Outman (-18), Yonker (-13), MacGregor (-14), Pscholka (-18), Daley (-13), Lyons (-23), Callton (-23), Price (-19), Haveman (-24), Johnson (-12), Stamas (-18), Potvin (-18), Schmidt (-18), Pettalia (-12), Foster (-23), McBroom (-23). All except Townsend are Republicans.
Notably, Republican scores consistently fell and democrat scores rose from the previous ratings. While one might think that representatives were positioning themselves for the 2012 election, all but two votes took place after that election. It could be that ACU chose less polarizing votes to score this time, though this was not obviously the case on the senate side. The partisan divide was much less clear in the house.
Of course, the usual caveats apply to any legislative ratings system. Legislators' scores will vary from year to year, so it will be interesting to compare these scores to future years' scores. Also, ratings only cover issues that were actually voted upon, so controversial issues that never made it to a vote can't be scored.
Nonetheless, ratings such as this are a valuable tool for voters heading into the 2014 primary and general elections.
Previous: 2012 ACU Michigan Legislature Ratings