House: Vote on Clean DHS Funding Bill

Below we use updated DW-NOMINATE scores to plot the House’s 257-167 vote to pass a clean funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The cutting line (separating predicted Yea votes from predicted Nay votes) divides the 75 Yea Republicans from the 167 Nay Republicans along both the first dimension (representing liberal-conservative position) and the second dimension. The meaning of the second dimension has largely shifted from representing regional differences within the parties (e.g., between northern and southern Democrats) to intra-party divisions that are more subtle and less clear. One of these divisions appears to be an “insider vs. outsider” cleavage that pops up on votes like the raising the debt ceiling, domestic surveillance, and government funding bills.

This image are from a new stand-alone DW-NOMINATE that can be run daily as new roll calls are cast. We will have more to say about this software at a later date.

Click image to enlarge


Note: The plot shows only 256 Yea votes because Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) voted Yea but has not cast enough votes (25) to be included in the scaling.

Posted in 114th Congress | Leave a comment

Senate: Vote to Override Keystone XL Pipeline Veto

Below we use updated DW-NOMINATE scores to plot the Senate’s 62-37 vote to override President Obama’s veto of a bill approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The Senate fell five votes short of a successful veto override.

Eight Senate Democrats joined all 54 Senate Republicans in supporting the override. These eight Democrats are among the most moderate members of their party’s caucus, and DW-NOMINATE accounts for this in projecting the cutting line as running through the right edge of the Senate Democrats.

It is also worth noting the degree of ideological dispersion among Republicans in the 114th Senate, which runs the gamut between moderates like Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and strong conservatives like Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY), with a first dimension (ideological) distance of approximately 0.8 between these two clusters.

This image are from a new stand-alone DW-NOMINATE that can be run daily as new roll calls are cast. We will have more to say about this software at a later date.

Click image to enlarge


Note: The plot does not include Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who voted Nay but has not yet cast enough votes to be included in the scaling.

Posted in 114th Congress | Leave a comment

House: Vote on Three-Week DHS Funding Bill

Below we use updated DW-NOMINATE scores to plot the House’s 203-224 vote to reject a three-week funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Ideology appears to do a good job of dividing the 191 Yea Republicans from the 52 Nay Republicans, with (predictably) those Republicans opposing the measure being more conservative than those supporting it. There is somewhat of a “two-ends-against-the-middle” pattern on this vote, with the 12 Democrats who voted Yea being more moderate than the remainder of their caucus.

This image are from a new stand-alone DW-NOMINATE that can be run daily as new roll calls are cast. We will have more to say about this software at a later date.

Click image to enlarge


Note: The plot shows only 202 Yea votes because Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) voted Yea but has not cast enough votes to be included in the scaling.

Posted in 114th Congress | Leave a comment

An Early Look at Polarization in the 114th Congress

Now that the 114th House has conducted 66 roll call votes and the 114th Senate has voted 53 times, we now have enough data to take a very preliminary look at ideological polarization in the new Congress. Following standard practice, we use first dimension DW-NOMINATE scores as measures of legislators’ liberal-conservative positions.

The first two plots below show the mean score of Democrats (Northern and Southern) and Republicans in both chambers over time. Though we are hesitant to put too much stock in these results at this early date, it looks like polarization (the ideological distance between Democrats and Republicans) is on pace to take a slight uptick in the 114th House but may level off in the 114th Senate. In the Senate, this is due to a slight shift in the Republican mean back to the center. Some of this may be due to the exit of Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) [whose score is 0.792] and the entry of Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) [0.216] and Mike Rounds (R-SD) [0.398]. There may also be a procedural aspect as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has allowed several votes on amendments.

Interestingly, the defeat of Democratic moderates like Senators Mark Begich (D-AK), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Mark Pryor (D-AR) has had very little effect thus far in moving the Democratic mean leftward. To some degree, their exit may be counterbalanced by the retirements of liberal Democrats like Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Carl Levin (D-MI).

The second set of images shows the percentage of Democratic and Republican legislators in both chambers with DW-NOMINATE scores less than -0.5 or greater than 0.5, making them more ideologically extreme. There has been little change in these values between the 113th and 114th Congresses, with the exception of a marked increase in the proportion of House Republicans with scores greater than 0.5.

These image are from a new stand-alone DW-NOMINATE that can be run daily as new roll calls are cast. We will have more to say about this software at a later date.

Click images to enlarge







Posted in 114th Congress, Political Polarization | Leave a comment

The House and Senate Votes to Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline

Below we use updated DW-NOMINATE scores to plot the House’s 266-153 vote and the Senate’s 62-36 to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

28 House Democrats and 9 Senate Democrats joined all voting Republicans in supporting the measure. As seen in the plots below, NOMINATE does a good job of modeling voting patterns on the basis of ideology, with moderate Democrats in both chambers predicted to defect from the rest of their party.

These image are from a new Stand-alone DW-NOMINATE that can be run daily as new roll calls are cast. We will have more to say about this software at a later date.

Click images to enlarge



Posted in 114th Congress | Leave a comment

The Speaker Vote: 6 January 2015

Updated 30 January 2015

Below is the vote to elect John Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker of the House. The actual roll call was 216 for Boehner, 164 for Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), 24 Republicans voted for other Republicans, 4 Democrats voted for other Democrats, Babin (R-TX) voted Present, and 25 members did not vote. Grimm (R-NY) resigned before the vote was taken.

The 24 Republicans who did not vote for Boehner were treated as voting for Pelosi and the 4 Democrats who did not vote for Pelosi were treated as voting for Boehner. This was done solely for display purposes. Most of the non-voters were Democrats — 20 of the 25. The opposition to Boehner was from the right-wing of the Republican caucus and the 4 Democrats opposed to Pelosi were relatively moderate.

This image is from a new Stand-alone DW-NOMINATE that can be run daily as new roll calls are cast. We will have more to say about this software at a later date.

Click image to enlarge

Posted in 114th Congress, Contemporary American Politics, DW-NOMINATE Stand-Alone | Leave a comment

An Update on the Presidential Square Wave

Below we plot the first dimension DW-NOMINATE Common Space scores of the presidents in the post-war period, which we refer to as the “presidential square wave” due to its shape. An ideological score is estimated for each president throughout the entirety of their tenure in office by scaling their “votes” on a subset of roll call on which they announce a position (measured using CQ Presidential Support Votes). Negative DW-NOMINATE scores indicate greater liberalism and positive scores indicate greater conservatism. The presidential scores are directly comparable across time and with members of Congress.

These presidential DW-NOMINATE scores are estimated using all available CQ presidential support roll calls through 2013. CQ does not issue all of its presidential support roll calls until the print version of its congressional roll call guide comes out, and so only a fraction of the 2014 votes are available.

Very little has changed from the last presidential square wave. President Obama fits the spatial model estimated by DW-NOMINATE extremely well, with over 95% of his “votes” correctly classified. Obama has moved very slightly leftward (-0.367) and is now just to the left of LBJ (-0.346) and right of Truman (-0.368), though this trio is virtually ideologically indistinguishable. President Eisenhower is the most moderate president (0.293) of the post-war era.

Among members of the 113th Congress, President Obama is very ideologically close to Representatives Stephen Lynch (D-MA) [-0.364] and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) [-0.369] in the House, and Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) [-0.367] and Mark Udall (D-CO) [-0.359] in the Senate.

Click image to enlarge

Posted in 113th Congress, Contemporary American Politics, Political Polarization | Leave a comment

House and Senate Polarization 1879 – 2014

Below we show the polarization of the Political Parties for the 1879 through 2014 period (46th to 113th Congresses). Polarization is measured by the distance between the means of the Democrat and Republican Parties on the first (Liberal vs. Conservative) DW-NOMINATE dimension. Polarization is now at a Post-Reconstruction high in both the House and Senate.

Click image to enlarge

Below are the Party means for the House on the first DW-NOMINATE dimension. For the Democrats we show the means for the Northern and Southern wings of the Party (We use the CQ definition of South; the 11 States of the Confederacy plus Kentucky and Oklahoma). In the past three Congresses the difference between the Northern and Southern Democrats has disappeared.

Click image to enlarge

Below are the corresponding Party means for the Senate on the first DW-NOMINATE dimension. The pattern is essentially the same as the House. However, the Southern Democratic Senators as a group tend to be more moderate than their Northern counterparts.

Click image to enlarge

Below are the Party mean graphs for the House and second for the second DW-NOMINATE dimension. This dimension usually picks up regional differences between the two major parties. Before the Civil War the second dimension picked up the North vs. South division on Slavery. In the Post Reconstruction period the second dimension picked up regional differences on soft vs. hard Money (bimetalism, gold and silver) and beginning in the late 1930s Civil Rights. In the past 20 years the second dimension has faded in importance and issues that used to divide the parties internally — e.g., gun control, abortion — now load almost entirely on the first dimension. This is explored in detail in Keith T. Poole and Howard Rosenthal (2007) Ideology and Congress. Note that in the figures below the parties have almost converged on the second DW-NOMINATE dimension. Voting in Congress is almost entirely one-dimensional. The first dimension now accounts for over 93-94 percent of the roll call votes.

Click images to enlarge



Posted in 113th Congress, Political Polarization | Leave a comment

House: Vote on $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill (the “Cromnibus”)

Below we use Optimal Classification (OC) in R to plot the House’s 219-206 vote on a $1.1 trillion spending package (the so-called Cromnibus). The vote split both party caucuses, with House Republicans voting 162-67 in favor of the bill and House Democrats splitting 57-139 against it.

The bill angered ideologues on both sides, and the result was a “two-ends-against-the-middle” vote in which a coalition of more moderate Republican and Democratic legislators united to pass the measure. The mean first dimension (representing liberal-conservative position) score of Democrats who voted Yea is -0.41, compared to a more liberal mean score of -0.49 for Nay Democrats (p < 0.01). The mean first dimension score of Yea Republicans is 0.38, compared to a more conservative mean score of 0.44 for Nay Republicans (p < 0.01).

Click image to enlarge


Note: The plot show only 217 Yea and 203 Nay votes because several newly-elected members have not yet cast enough votes to be included in the scaling.

Posted in 113th Congress | Leave a comment

The House and Senate Votes on the Keystone XL Pipeline

Below we use Optimal Classification (OC) in R to plot the House’s 252-161 vote and the Senate’s 59-41 vote on approving the Keystone XL pipeline. The Senate fell one vote short of approving the measure, which was designed in part to help Senator Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) prospects in her upcoming runoff against Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

31 House Democrats and 14 Senate Democrats joined with all voting Republicans in both chambers in support of the measure. The first dimension (representing legislators’ liberal-conservative positions) does a good job at capturing this internal divide among House and (especially) Senate Democrats. Three of the Democratic Senators who voted Yea were defeated in their re-election races earlier this month — Senators Mark Begich (D-AK), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Mark Pryor (D-AR) — and these are among the more moderate members of the Senate Democratic Caucus. This helps to illustrate why polarization is likely to increase in the next (114th) Senate.

Click images to enlarge



Posted in 113th Congress | Leave a comment