In recent decades, members of Congress were well aware of various organizations and their congressional scorecards. In fact, groups have routinely let lawmakers know exactly which bills would be counted when compiling their ratings -- voting with the organizations' positions would lead to a better score, while voting against them would do the opposite.
For Republicans, some of the groups with the most notable scorecards are Heritage Action, the American Conservative Union, and the Club for Growth. There's some overlap in the specific votes the advocacy organizations consider, but when it comes to getting a quantifiable look at GOP members' voting records, and the degree to which they're conservative, these ratings provide a useful guide.
And with that in mind, I put together this chart showing the lifetime ratings for former House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), newly elected House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), and the member Stefanik defeated for the leadership post, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas):
The results aren't exactly subtle. Stefanik's lifetime ratings are obviously less conservative than her predecessor's scores -- who was ousted for telling Republicans inconvenient truths about the integrity of election results -- and her rival's ratings.
At face value, this may seem odd, if not counterintuitive. Why would a radicalized House Republican conference fire a longtime conservative stalwart and dismiss an even-more-conservative candidate for a GOP leadership post?
The answer, of course, is because contemporary Republicans couldn't care less about policy or voting records.
NBC News' Sahil Kapur noted this morning, "It wasn't long ago that these scorecards instilled fear in House Republicans and were used as barometers of ideological purity in party primaries, leadership jockeying and so on. Today it's all irrelevant."
Quite right. Cheney and Roy recognized Donald Trump's impeachable misconduct, while Stefanik looked the other way. Cheney and Roy voted to certify the nation's election results, while Stefanik prioritized party over democracy. Cheney and Roy have no use for ridiculous electoral conspiracy theories, while Stefanik embraces -- or at least pretends to embrace -- obvious nonsense, including the laughable Arizona "audit."
Cheney and Roy even voted with the Trump White House on legislative matters more than Stefanik did, but they won't pretend the former president won an election he lost, while Stefanik is willing to play the partisan game.
And in 2021, this matters for more than substance and governing in Republican politics.