Even before Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tried to claim her partying at a ritzy gala this week as a populist victory, data showed a big gap between the New York congresswoman’s celebrity and her ability to do her job.
Maybe House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was right when she suggested “the Squad” of progressive lawmakers led by Ocasio-Cortez was too busy posing for “holy pictures” to pass laws.
WHAT THE DATA SHOWS
Ocasio-Cortez is one of the biggest Democratic stars in Congress but also one of her party’s least effective legislators, according to a comparison of findings by two prominent research groups.
Celebrity: The online polling firm YouGov has found that Ocasio-Cortez, aka AOC, is the fourth best-known Democrat currently serving in Congress.
- In the House, Ocasio-Cortez is the most famous Democrat other than Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with 83% name recognition, though only 42% of people have a positive opinion of her, per YouGov.
Effectiveness: When it comes to Ocasio-Cortez’s work in Congress, however, the Center for Effective Lawmaking has determined that the results are less than stellar.
- Among Democrats in the 116th Congress, Ocasio-Cortez ranked 230th out of 240 in “legislative effectiveness,” the group’s data-based mathematical measure of a lawmaker’s “proven ability to advance a member’s agenda items through the legislative process and into law.”
- Ocasio-Cortez scored 0.2 compared to a Congress-wide average of 1.0, which the joint project of the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University deemed “below expectations.”
WORSE THAN AOC
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, despite her criticisms of “the Squad,” was among a number of big-name lawmakers who scored even lower than Ocasio-Cortez when it comes to effectiveness:
- Pelosi, D-Calif.: 0.06
- Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.: 0.14
- Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb.: 0.17
- Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wy.: 0.15
- Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas: 0.11
- Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fl.: 0.07
- Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La.: 0.07
- Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif: 0.05
- Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio: 0.01
The Center for Effective Lawmaking acknowledged it can’t calculate the value of some aspects of lawmaking, like working on bills behind the scenes or blocking opponents’ legislation — let alone attending the Met Gala in the name of public service and immigrant women of color.
- But the group’s low estimation of Ocasio-Cortez was in keeping with a broad trend it identified in an April study, which USA Today summed up in a headline: “Congress’ most effective lawmakers aren’t generally its household names.”