imageCongressional Quarterly seems to be admitting that ideological rankings of Senators and Representatives, including their own, provide inaccurate, selective and mislabeled impressions of politicians.

Yet, for some reason, they keep doing them.

The Voteview approach is widely praised by political scientists because it has been very accurate at predicting how members vote. But Poole acknowledges his liberal-conservative scale doesn’t fully capture the complexity of lawmakers’ viewpoints.

“American politics is a philosophical mess in that there is no philosophical coherence to political parties. The parties are just groups of issue positions,” he said.

Green, the National Journal editor, says voters shouldn’t rely on a single rating to determine a candidate’s ideology.

“There’s pluses and minuses to each rating system. If you look at a number of them, I think you have a pretty good picture,” he said.

Of course it would help if, perhaps, these ranking groups didn't try to boil down fundamentally incongruent, complex forms of decision making into #1 Super Most Liberal Time Happy Explosion. That's just a thought.