Senator Heitkamp Ranked as North Dakota’s Most Effective Leader in Congress


North Dakota's Senator-elect Heidi Heitkamp. Heitkamp started life as Mary Kathryn in Mantador,N.D., but she started being called Heidi in first grade and the name stuck.

The Center for Effective Lawmaking – a joint endeavor between the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and Vanderbilt University – has some good news for North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp as she heads into a tough re-election campaign in the 2018 cycle.

According to their calculations, she ranks as the most effective member of North Dakota’s congressional delegation:

The numbers are a little opaque, but essentially the legislative effectiveness score (LES) is a metric measuring, well, effectiveness. The benchmark score, meanwhile, is a measure of how a effective a given lawmaker with similar party affiliation, time in Congress, etc., etc., is expected to be.

You can read up on the methodology here.

The group ranked Senator Heitkamp, who has the highest LES among North Dakota’s delegation, as having an effectiveness “above expectations.” Senator Hoeven and Congressman Cramer, who came in second and third respectively, both “meet expectations.”

Cramer, though, scored below his benchmark. For what that’s worth.

I suspect Senator Heitkamp benefits a great deal from being a sort of swing vote between the two parties. That’s leverage, and leverage makes you effective.

Count this score, along with relatively high approval numbers according to the little polling available publicly in our state, as evidence that Heitkamp will be difficult for Republicans to unseat this cycle. Not impossibly so, but difficult none the less.

Still, Republicans could ask how Senator Heitkamp has been using her effectiveness? To what end is she effective? So far she’s been a consistent vote against repealing and replacing Obamacare, and seems poised to be an obstacle to tax reform as well.

Is that now North Dakotans want Senator Heitkamp to be effective?