House: Vote on the Fiscal Cliff Deal

Revised 3 January 2012: We have updated the plot with the votes of the four missing Yea legislators and the three missing Nay legislators. The substantive findings remain unchanged.

Below we use Optimal Classification (OC) in R to plot the House‚Äôs 257-167 vote on the fiscal cliff deal passed by the Senate early New Year’s Day. We plotted the Senate’s 89-8 vote here.

House Republicans split 85-151 on the bill, while House Democrats supported it by a 172-16 margin. As seen in the plot below, the Democrats who voted Nay were widely ideologically dispersed between moderate “Blue Dog” Democrats like Reps. John Barrow (D-GA) and Jim Matheson (D-UT) and liberal Democrats like Reps. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) (who also served on the “Super Committee”) and Jim McDermott (D-WA).

There is more structure in the split among House Republicans on the vote. More conservative members with lower second dimension scores were more likely to vote Nay than their less conservative counterparts with higher second dimension scores. This schism isn’t perfect: many House Republicans above and to the left of the cutting line voted Nay, and many below and to the right voted Yea. But the angle of the cutting line does support a pattern that in important votes in the 112th Congress, the second dimension has represented an establishment vs. anti- establishment divide. Interestingly, House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), who voted Nay, was predicted to be a Yea vote based on his ideological position. Conversely, 2012 Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who voted Yea, was predicted to oppose the measure based on his ideological position.

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Finally, this vote was to some extent a mirror image of one of the final votes of the previous, 111th House that extended all Bush tax cuts for two years. On that vote, a sizable contingent of the most liberal House Democrats voted Nay (although so did many House Republicans, who opposed an extension of unemployment benefits). We plot this vote below:

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