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POLI 304: Congress: Ideological positions

Course guide for POLI 304: Congress taught by Renee Van Vechten, Fall 2021


Politicians are "rated" regularly by all manner of organizations active in politics, including well-known groups such as the National Rifle Association and American Civil Liberties Union as well as industry-specific groups and issue-specific organizations such as the American Energy Alliance or Bread for the World. These organizations typically publish their ratings through their websites and social media.

Project Vote Smart compiles dozens of these ratings for each Representative, organizing them by political issue.

Search for your Representative in Project Vote Smart and click "Ratings" to bring up the list of profiles.

Lugar Bipartisanship Index

Former Senator Dick Lugar created the Lugar Center Bipartisanship Index to measure a Congressperson's bipartisanship. The index measures how often the Member co-sponsors legislation introduced by the opposing party or introduces legislation that opposing politicians are willing to co-sponsor. Members scoring above zero are considered "above-average" compared to the baseline bipartisanship score over the past 20 years.

Sen. Lugar explains that the Lugar Bipartisanship Index measures "the efforts of legislators to broaden the appeal of their sponsored legislation, to entertain a wider range of ideas, and to prioritize governance over posturing."

Our example

Representative Pete Aguilar of California

Rep. Pete Aguilar of the California 31st Congressional District - University of Redlands' home district - is our example Representative for the sample searches throughout this guide.

Practice finding information on Rep. Aguilar so that you can apply similar strategies to learn about your member once you've received the assignment.