Case, Akaka debate 'influence' in congress

As both Rep. Ed Case and Sen. Daniel Akaka prepare for Thursday’s live debate, both campaigns have again focused on third-party rankings of the incumbent’s effectiveness and power in congress. In a new television ad, Case cites a non-partisan website,, and says it ranks Akaka as one of the country’s “three least influential senators.” In response, Akaka supporters were happy to cite the very same website, noting that it gives lower overall scores to Case. The site assigns a “Power Score” to all members of congress based on position, influence, and legislation, and also ranks each member relative to all members of each chamber as well as within each party. Focusing solely on the “influence” category, Akaka is tied for second-to-last place with a score of zero. However, Case’s score is minus-2. When comparing the overall scorecards for Akaka and Case, Case also scored lower on “position” and “legislation.” In overall ranking within their respective chambers, placed Akaka
71st out of 99 senators, and Case 410th among 438 representatives.

  Power Scores Ranks
Member Position Influence Legislation Overall Within Chamber Within Party
Sen. Daniel Akaka 39 0 10 24.67 71 of 99 28 of 73
Sen. Daniel Inouye 66 1 11 39.00 33 of 99 12 of 73
Rep. Neil Abercrombie 16 0 1 8.13 347 of 438 118 of 205
Rep. Case 12 -2 0 5.02 410 of 438 179 of 205

In terms of rank, “influence” — defined by the site as the amount of power in influencing the congressional agenda or votes — is the only category in which Case arguably leads Akaka. On “position” (how much power legislator wields by virtue of tenure, committee assignments or leadership position), Akaka ranks 62nd and Case ranks 373rd. And on “legislation” (how much power the legislator demonstrates through the passage or shaping of legislation), Akaka ranks 71st, wheras Case ranks 410th. In terms of “Power Scores,” however, Akaka leads Case in all categories.

In summarizing its scores, explained its results as follows:

  • Ed Case:
    • Too few terms or years in office in Congress to have significant clout
    • Member lost power points due to he/she running for higher office, which usually translates into reduced resources and ability to exercise power in the legislative process
  • Daniel Akaka
    • Ranking member of a committee or subcommittee
    • Successfully passed one or more bills out of the House or Senate
    • Successfully amended one or more bills on the floor of the House or Senate

In the new television ad, Case again cites Time magazine’s April issue, in which it named Akaka as one of the nation’s five worst senators. The article called Akaka “living proof that experience does not necessarily yield expertise,” and that he is “a master of the minor resolution and the bill that dies in committee.” The piece sparked conspiracy theories noting that Ed Case’s cousin, Steve Case, once headed and remains a major shareholder in Time magazine’s parent company, Time Warner.

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