Guide to Usage
The following guide provides a brief description of the tabular material in the book and the sources from which the information was derived. Much of the material was generated for The Almanac of American Politics by Polidata, a Virginia-based political statistics and demographics firm. Other sources include the United States Census Bureau, the staff of National Journal, and the The Cook Political Report. The 2010 Almanac uses the latest available data and offers significant updates from the last edition of the book, published in 2007. Figures released by the Census Bureau may vary slightly from those used by The Almanac due to different methods of data aggregation or tabulation.
This section lists the date each governor, senator and representative was elected or appointed, the date and place of birth, current hometown, college education and degrees earned, religion, marital status and, if applicable, spouse’s name and number of children. The number of terms listed reflects full, elected terms. Also provided is a brief outline of the subject’s past elected offices, professional career and military service and office addresses, telephone numbers and websites. Committee and subcommittee assignments are current as of July 2008. (Note: On many committees, the chairman and ranking minority member are ex officio members of subcommittees.)
The congressional ratings by 10 interest groups provide an idea of a legislator's general ideology and the degree to which he or she reflects a group's point of view. Some of the groups are single-issue organizations, such as environmental groups; others represent a particular sector or industry (e.g., business or technology). More liberal-leaning groups are on the left side of the page and more conservative groups are on the right. Some organizations provided just one rating for the two-year congressional session. Here is a general description of the groups:
- Increase minimum wage
House H.R.2. Roll Call 18 (2007)
Yea: 273, Nay: 93, Not Voting: 2
- Expand SCHIP
House H.R.976. Roll Call 906 (2007)
Yea: 236, Nay: 130, Not Voting: 4, Present: 1
- Raise CAFE standards
House H.R.6. Roll Call 1140 (2007)
Yea: 219, Nay: 143, Not Voting: 10
- Bail out financial markets
House H.R.1424. Roll Call 681 (2008)
Yea: 228, Nay: 151
- Share immigration data
House H.R.2638. Roll Call 485 (2007)
Yea: 186, Nay: 175, Not Voting: 11
- Foreign aid abortion ban
House H.R.2764. Roll Call 534 (2007)
Nay: 198, Yea: 166, Not Voting: 8
- Ban gay bias in workplace
House H.R.3685. Roll Call 1057 (2007)
Yea: 211, Nay: 152, Not Voting: 9
- Repeal D.C. gun law
House H.R.6842. Roll Call 600 (2008)
Yea: 221, Nay: 149, Not Voting: 11, Present: 1
- Withdraw troops 8/08
House H.R.1591. Roll Call 186 (2007)
Yea: 201, Nay: 165, Not Voting: 2, Present: 1
- No operations in Iran
House H.R.1585. Roll Call 364 (2007)
Yea: 191, Nay: 169, Not Voting: 12
- Free trade with Peru
House H.R.3688. Roll Call 1060 (2007)
Yea: 238, Nay: 124, Not Voting: 10
- Overhaul FISA
House H.R.6304. Roll Call 437 (2008)
Yea: 248, Nay: 123, Not Voting: 8
- Raise CAFE standards
Senate H.R.6. Roll Call 225 (2007)
Yea: 52, Nay: 26, Not Voting: 5
- Expand SCHIP
Senate H.R.976. Roll Call 307 (2007)
Yea: 57, Nay: 26, Not Voting: 1
- Cap greenhouse gases
Senate S.3036. Roll Call 145 (2008)
Yea: 43, Nay: 32, Not Voting: 9
- Bail out financial markets
Senate H.R.1424. Roll Call 213 (2008)
Yea: 62, Nay: 22
- Make English official language
Senate S.1348. Roll Call 198 (2007)
Yea: 54, Nay: 27, Not Voting: 2
- Path to citizenship
Senate S.1639. Roll Call 235 (2007)
Nay: 45, Yea: 38, Not Voting: 1
- Fetus is unborn child
Senate H.R.976. Roll Call 302 (2007)
Nay: 45, Yea: 38, Not Voting: 1
- Prosecute hate crimes
Senate H.R.1585. Roll Call 350 (2007)
Yea: 52, Nay: 31, Not Voting: 1
- Withdraw troops 3/08
Senate H.R.1591. Roll Call 147 (2007)
Yea: 44, Nay: 36, Not Voting: 3
- Iran guard is terrorist group
Senate H.R.1585. Roll Call 349 (2007)
Yea: 64, Nay: 19, Not Voting: 1
- Increase missile defense $
Senate S.3001. Roll Call 198 (2008)
Nay: 51, Yea: 32, Not Voting: 1
- Overhaul FISA
Senate H.R.6304. Roll Call 168 (2008)
Yea: 57, Nay: 25, Not Voting: 2
Listed for each member of the House are results of the 2008 general, runoff and primary elections, as well as any special elections held since November 2006. Most-recent gubernatorial and senatorial results are presented in a like manner. Votes and percentages are included, indicating the margin of victory. Due to rounding up and rounding down, some totals may equal more or less than 100%. Candidates in primaries receiving less than 5% of the total vote were excluded. Candidates in general elections receiving less than 2% of the total vote were excluded. Election returns were collected from the individual states.
Prior winning percentage: This feature provides winning percentage of the vote in past elections. If no percentage is provided for an election year, it indicates that the member lost or did not run for reelection that year; generally this will occur where there has been a gap in service. Two elections in the same year indicate a special and a general election.
Presidential vote: Results were compiled from state and local election authorities; caucus results are not provided. The presidential vote by congressional district is estimated by Polidata, from information collected from state and local election offices. Only a handful of states provide district-level presidential vote data. By necessity, other results are aggregated from precinct-level returns. Voting data from districts with split precincts and centrally counted absentee votes thus should be considered estimates; the allocation of these unassigned votes is determined by Polidata. While estimates of votes are included in each district, the percentage values generally provide reliable information. The total of the congressional district votes may not add up to the total state vote, because some votes (overseas, military and some absentee and early votes) are not assigned to a congressional district and because county election office reports sometimes conflict with reports from state election authorities.
Campaign Finance: All data were derived from candidates’ campaign finance reports and party reports available from the Federal Election Commission. The dollar figure, in parentheses to the right of the election results, represents the candidates’ net expenditures for the period from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2008. These figures do not include corrections or amendments filed with the FEC after May 2008.
Demographics and Politics (Boxed)
Population: All population figures are from the Census Bureau’s 2005-07 American Community Survey (ACS), unless otherwise noted. Census estimates are as of July 1, 2008. The estimates are used for voting age population in the states and for the population of congressional districts.
Urban/rural population: The percentage of total population living in areas defined by the Bureau as urban or as rural. Urban/rural figures for the states are from the ACS; urban/ rural figures for congressional districts are from the 2000 census.
Native of state: People born in a state of residence as a percentage of total population.
Not a citizen: People who are foreign born and not a citizen as a percentage of the total.
Area size: Area size is in square miles, including water, and is taken from the 2000 census.
Most populous cities: City population figures are from the 2005-07 ACS where available. Where not available, the Bureau’s July 1, 2007 estimates are used.
Household income: Household income as a percentage of all households.
Home value: Refers to self-estimated market value of owner-occupied units.
Work sector: A classification of worker by economic sector. The figure is the percentage of employed persons 16 years and older. Private refers to people employed by private for-profit or not-for-profit organizations on a wage or salary basis; Government refers to federal, state and local government employees.
Unemployment: Unemployed, non-military people 16 years and older as a percentage of the labor force.
Poverty status: The percentage of people 16 years and older for whom poverty status has been determined and who fall below the poverty line, which in 2007 was defined by the federal government as a family of four living on about $21,000 or less a year.
Occupation (“collar”): The figure is the percentage of employed persons 16 years and older. White collar refers to managerial, professional, sales and administrative occupations. Blue collar refers to construction, production and transportation occupations. Khaki collar refers to active-duty military personnel. Other refers to the balance of employed people not classified as white collar, blue collar or military, such as those in the farming, fishing and forestry industries or in health care, protective service, food preparation and personal care occupations.
Race/ethnicity: As defined by the Census Bureau, race reflects an individual respondent’s perception of his or her racial identity and does not reflect any biological or anthropological definitions. The racial categories are: American-Indian or Alaska Native (designated as Native Am.); Asian; Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (Hawaiian); black or African- American; white; two or more races (Two + races); Other non-Hispanic people (Other). Hispanic origin is defined as an ethnicity, and includes those who classified themselves in one of three specific Hispanic categories (Cuban, Mexican, or Puerto Rican) or as of “other Spanish/Hispanic origin.” Persons of Latino or Hispanic origin may be of any race for Census purposes, but The Almanac includes only non-Hispanic blacks in the black population category and only non-Hispanic whites in the white population category, so that the percentages add to 100%. The numbers provided for each racial or ethnic group represent a percentage of all people in a state or a congressional district.
Ancestry: Ethnic origin or descent. With this category, the Census Bureau intended to provide data for groups that were not included in the Hispanic origin and race questions; thus, it does not reflect diversity within Hispanic and Asian subgroups. To arrive at the percentages for each category, the bureau used the average number of responses to estimate the percentage of the population that shares the ancestry characteristic. NOTE: The USA designation refers to “American” as a unique ethnicity if it was cited alone as a response, in the absence of any other ethnicity. Subsaharan refers to the census category of “Subsaharan African.” West Indian excludes Hispanic groups.
Language: The percentage of households speaking a certain language. The abbreviation Other Eur. refers to other Indo-European languages.
Education: H.S. grad refers to people with a high school diploma or higher and college grad refers to people with a bachelor’s degree or higher, both as a percentage of people 25 years and older.
Military veterans: People who were in the Armed Forces as a percentage of voting-age population.
Registered Voters: The number of registered voters by party, as close as possible to the November 2008 election. The individual states’ election bureaus or political parties provide these figures. Some states have no voter registration. D refers to Democrat; R refers to Republican; other refers to independent voters or those from minor parties.
Turnout: The share of the total voting age population that cast a vote for president in the 2008 election. Other measures could be used to calculate turnout, but many of these measures were not available for all of the states or all of the congressional districts. Basing calculations on voting age population and presidential vote permits comparisons across states and across districts, but it does not account for voting age persons who are not eligible to vote due to the status of their residency and citizenship, for example. Furthermore, voting age population figures for states are taken from July 1, 2008 census estimates, while voting age population figures for congressional districts are taken from the 2005-07 ACS (census estimates are not available for congressional districts). There is likely to be some overstatement of the rate by district because the turnout calculations do not reflect increases in population since the ACS.
State information: Each legislature is referred to according to its proper name, followed by a breakdown of membership by party affiliation. Partisan composition figures are drawn from the National Conference of State Legislatures and are current as of July 2008.
Cook Partisan Voting Index: Developed in 1997 by Charlie Cook, a leading national political handicapper, the partisan voting index (PVI) is designed to provide a quick, overall assessment of a state or district’s generic partisan strength. The PVI measures a state or district’s recent partisan performance at the presidential level (district value) against that of the nation as a whole (national value). For this volume, the calculations are based on an average of 2004 and 2008 presidential election data for each district as provided by the political statistical analysis firm Polidata. Both years carry equal weight. Only votes for major party nominees are considered. The national Democratic value is 51.2 (an average of John Kerry’s 48.8% share and Barack Obama’s 53.7% share) and the national Republican value is 48.8. Thus, if Kerry and Obama won an average of 56.2% of the two-party vote in a given district, the district’s PVI would be D+5, because it voted five percentage points more Democratic than the national average. A PVI value of “even” indicates an evenly balanced district.
AbbreviationsACLU: American Civil Liberties Union
ACU: American Conservative Union
ADA: Americans for Democratic Action
AFDC: Aid to Families with Dependent Children
AFL-CIO: American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
AFS: American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
AID: Agency for International Development
AMI: American Independent (CA)
ANWR: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
BL: Better Life Party
C: Conservative Party (NY)
CAFE: Corporate Average Fuel Economy
CAFTA: Central America Free Trade Agreement
CFL: Connecticut for Lieberman
CHOB: Cannon House Office Building
CIA: Central Intelligence Agency
CNP: Constitution Party
COC: Chamber of Commerce of the United States
COLA: Cost of Living Adjustment
CPF: Constitution Party of Florida
DCCC: Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
DFL: Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (MN)
DLC: Democratic Leadership Council
DNC: Democratic National Committee
DSCC: Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
DSOB: Dirksen Senate Office Building
EMILY: EMILY’s List (Early Money is Like Yeast)
ERISA: Employee Retirement Income Security Act
FEC: Federal Election Commission
FERC: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Green: Green Party
H: Capitol Building Room-House side
HSOB: Hart Senate Office Building
IAP: Independent American Party (NV)
IC: Independent Conservative
ID: Independent Democrat
IG: Independent Green
IMC: Independent Maine Course
Ind: Independence Party
IVP: Independent Voters Party
L: Liberal Party
LCV: League of Conservation Voters
LHOB: Longworth House Office Building
Lib: Libertarian Party
Mod: Moderate Party
NAFTA: North American Free Trade Agreement
NARAL: NARAL Pro-Choice America
NFIB: National Federation of Independent Business
NL: Natural Law Party
NPA: No Party Affiliation
NRCC: National Republican Congressional Committee
NRSC: National Republican Senatorial Committee
NSA: National Security Agency
NTU: National Taxpayers Union
PDP: Popular Democratic Party (PR)
PF: Peace and Freedom Party
PJ: Peace and Justice Party (NY)
POP: Populist Party
PRG: Progressive Party
Ref: Reform Party
RHOB: Rayburn House Office Building
RMM: Ranking Minority Member
RNC: Republican National Committee
RSOB: Russell Senate Office Building
RTL: Right-to-Life Party
S: Capitol Building Room, Senate side
SOC: Socialist Party
SW: Socialist Workers Party
UAW: United Auto Workers
WF: Working Families
WI: Write In