Virginia Partisanship in Congress

Rep. Abigail Spanberger
Photo credit: Richmond Times Dispatch

Virginia Congressmen have scored at the extremes on a national measure of bipartisanship in Congress.  As reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, has been ranked as the fifth most bipartisan member of the House of Representatives and Rep. Bob Good, R-5th, the fifth least bipartisan member.

Rep. Bob Good, Photo credit: Richmond Times Dispatch

The Lugar Center, founded by the late Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, annually publishes the Bipartisan Index.  The Index “measures the frequency with which a member co-sponsors a bill introduced by the opposite party and the frequency with which a member’s own bills attract co-sponsors from the opposite party.”  It is not a simple compilation of co-sponsorships.  The Index utilizes a 20-year baseline of data to standardize the data and there is a weighting factor to account for members who sponsor or co-sponsor lots of bills or just a few bills.  Not counted in the compilation were resolutions or private bills, such as those that name post offices.

The Center chose to use co-sponsorships as a measure of bipartisanship, rather than voting records, because “members’ voting decisions are often contextual and can be influenced by parliamentary circumstances. Sponsorships and co-sponsorships, in contrast, exist as very carefully considered declarations of where a legislator stands on an issue.”  In addition, they did not want to measure the quality of legislation, which could be subjective, but “the efforts of legislators to broaden the appeal of their sponsored legislation, to entertain a wider range of ideas, and to prioritize governance over posturing.”

A listing of the Index scores of all the current members of Congress, as well as those of previous Congresses, along with a detailed description of the methodology used in constructing the Index, can be found here.

Here are the Partisan Index rankings of the entire Virginia delegation for 2021:


  •  Abigail Spanberger, D-7th–5
  •  Elaine Luria, D-2nd–26
  • Gerry Connolly, D-11th–72
  • Jennifer Wexton, D-10th–79
  • Morgan Griffith, R-9th–154
  • Rob Wittman, R-1st–203
  • Don Beyer, D-8th–231
  • Bobby Scott, D-3rd–240
  • Ben Cline, R-6th–265
  • Donald McEachin, D-4th–341
  • Bob Good, R-5th–431


  • Mark Warner, D.–35
  • Tim Kaine, D.–50

Although Spanberger ranked as one of the least partisan members, most of the members of the Virginia delegation would be considered partisan.  The Lugar Center, which publishes the Index, considers any member who scores above zero on the Index to be a “Bipartisan Legislator”.  Only Spanberger, Luria, Connolly, and Wexton in the House and Warner in the Senate met that criterion in 2021.  For the 116th Congress (2019-2020), the delegation showed a little more bipartisanship, with Spanberger, Luria, Connolly, Griffith, and Wittman in the House earning an Index score above zero.  In the Senate, Warner was the sole Virginia “Bipartisan Legislator”.