When does a politician cast the "deciding vote"?
PolitiFact apparently delivered the definitive statement on the issue on Oct. 6, 2010 with an article specifically titled "What makes a vote 'the deciding vote'?"
Every example of a "deciding vote" in that article received a rating of "Barely True" or worse (PolitiFact now calls "Barely True" by the name "Mostly False"). And each of the claims came from Republicans.
What happens when a similar claim comes from a Democrat? Now we know:
Okay, okay, okay. We have to consider the traditional defense: This case was different!
But before we start, we remind our readers that cases may prove trivially different from one another. It's not okay, for example, if the difference is that this time the claim from from a woman, or this time the case is from Florida not Georgia. Using trivial differences to justify the ruling represent the fallacy of special pleading.
No. We need a principled difference to justify the ruling. Not a trivial difference.
We'll need to look at the way PolitiFact justified its rulings.
First, the "Half True" for Democrat Gwen Graham:
Graham said DeSantis casted the "deciding vote against" the state's right to protect Florida waters from drilling.Second, the "Mostly False" for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (bold emphasis added):
There’s no question that DeSantis’ vote on an amendment to the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act was crucial, but saying DeSantis was the deciding vote goes too far. Technically, any of the 209 other people who voted against the bill could be considered the "deciding vote."
Furthermore, the significance of Grayson’s amendment is a subject of debate. Democrats saw it as securing Florida’s right to protect Florida waters, whereas Republicans say the amendment wouldn’t have changed the powers of the state.
With everything considered, we rate this claim Half True.
The NRSC ad would have been quite justified in describing Bennet's vote for either bill as "crucial" or "necessary" to passage of either bill, or even as "a deciding vote." But we can't find any rationale for singling Bennet out as "the deciding vote" in either case. He made his support for the stimulus bill known early on and was not a holdout on either bill. To ignore that and the fact that other senators played a key role in completing the needed vote total for the health care bill, leaves out critical facts that would give a different impression from message conveyed by the ad. As a result, we rate the statement Barely True.Third, the "False" for Republican Scott Bruun:
(W)e’ll be ridiculously lenient here and say that because the difference between the two sides was just one vote, any of the members voting to adjourn could be said to have cast the deciding vote.The Bruun case doesn't help us much. PolitiFact said Bruun's charge about the "deciding" vote was true but only because its judgment was "ridiculously lenient." And the ridiculous lenience failed to get Bruun's rating higher than "False." So much for PolitiFact's principle of rating two parts of a claim separately and averaging the results.
Fourth, we look at the "Mostly False" rating for Republican Ron Johnson:
In a campaign mailer and other venues, Ron Johnson says Feingold supported a measure that cut more than $500 billion from Medicare. That makes it sound like money out of the Medicare budget today, when Medicare spending will actually increase over the next 10 years. What Johnson labels a cut is an attempt to slow the projected increase in spending by $500 billion. Under the plan, guaranteed benefits are not cut. In fact, some benefits are increased. Johnson can say Feingold was the deciding vote -- but so could 59 other people running against incumbents now or in the future.We know from earlier research that PolitiFact usually rated claims about the ACA cutting Medicare as "Mostly False." So this case doesn't tell us much, either. The final rating for the combined claims could end up "Mostly False" if PolitiFact considered the "deciding vote" portion "False" or "Half True." It would all depend on subjective rounding, we suppose.
We rate Johnson’s claim Barely True.
Note that PolitiFact Florida cited "What makes a vote 'the deciding vote'?" for its rating of Gwen Graham. How does a non-partisan fact checker square Graham's "Half True" rating with the ratings given to Republicans? Why does the fact check not clearly describe the principle that made the difference for Graham's more favorable rating?
As far as well can tell, the key difference comes from party affiliation, once again suggesting that PolitiFact leans left.
After the page break we looked for other cases of the "deciding vote."