Dear Idaho voters:
Well, it’s that time of year again. Candidates are out in force, trying to win your support as part of the 2018 election cycle. We’re glad that candidates and voters are using the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s information to educate themselves on issues, and that many Idahoans use the Freedom Index as one measure for determining whether candidates for office have a conservative record. We consider the Freedom Index a solid tool for evaluating a candidate’s legislative track record.
However, we urge candidates and their supporters to use our data accurately. For example, 2012 was the first year our Freedom Index was published. That year, IFF didn’t calculate percentages or letter grades as part of a legislator’s Freedom Index score. At the time, the Freedom Index wasn’t set up for either.
Despite this, some campaign materials in the current race for lieutenant governor use the 2012 Freedom Index in a way that was never intended. It is improper to claim that Rep. Janice McGeachin’s 2012 Freedom Index score can be represented as a percentage or a letter grade, as neither were part of the Freedom Index that year. It is fair to say that Rep. Bob Nonini scored higher on the 2012 Freedom Index than McGeachin, but both voted in a way that indicated solid support for conservative principles and free markets.
Candidates for office and their allies may freely use the Freedom Index letter and percentage scores where they have existed the last four years. It’s healthy to note the differences between candidates using the Freedom Index, and this measure adds value to the discussion. But it is misleading to apply a percentage score or letter grade to early iterations of the Freedom Index where neither existed.