Waxing and waning, the only constant in political power is the guarantee that there will be change, but trying to rank a legislator’s power numerically is nearly impossible.
Knowlegis, a software research firm, yesterday attempted the nearly impossible when it issued its 2005 “Power Rankings” list, using 15 characteristics of power that are based on 283 variables.
Some of the results were surprising. While the 10 most powerful senators and representatives seemed like the suspects one might expect, other chairmen, ranking members and recognizable legislators ranked far lower than some members and aides expected they would.
In fact, some offices are downright angry about the results.
“By rank alone, my boss is conference chair, No. 4 in leadership,” said Sean Spicer, spokesman for House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), who ranked 32nd. “To say somehow she is in the 30s is ridiculous.”
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), a possible presidential candidate, ranked 89th in the Senate, well below Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), who ranked 71. Akaka, however, has been known as one of the Senate’s quietest members.
“Senator Bayh doesn’t have strong committee assignments and didn’t have a superstrong legislative record in 2005,” Knowlegis CEO Brad Fitch said.
A computer determined the outcome, Fitch said.
Knowlegis is a subsidiary of Capitol Advantage, the nation’s largest publisher of congressional “face books.”
To determine the ranking, Knowlegis said, it examined media articles, bills and amendments and collected information on leadership, committee and caucus positions. Knowlegis was also surprised by some of the results. Fitch said he was astonished that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ranked higher in influence than Hastert. Her donations and appearances on television pushed her ranking up, Fitch said.