Analyzing the U.S. Senate in 2003: Similarities, Clusters, and Blocs

Posted: 18 Aug 2009

See all articles by Aleks Jakulin

Aleks Jakulin

Columbia University - Department of Statistics; Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy

Wray Buntine

Helsinki Institute of Information Technology

Timothy M. La Pira

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Holly Brasher

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: Summer 2009

Abstract

In this paper, we apply information theoretic measures to voting in the U.S. Senate in 2003. We assess the associations between pairs of senators and groups of senators based on the votes they cast. For pairs, we use similarity-based methods, including hierarchical clustering and multidimensional scaling. To identify groups of senators, we use principal component analysis. We also apply a discrete multinomial latent variable model that we have developed. In doing so, we identify blocs of cohesive voters within the Senate and contrast it with continuous ideal point methods. We find more nuanced blocs than simply the two-party division. Under the bloc-voting model, the Senate can be interpreted as a weighted vote system, and we are able to estimate the empirical voting power of individual blocs through what-if analysis.

Suggested Citation

Jakulin, Aleks and Buntine, Wray and La Pira, Timothy M. and Brasher, Holly, Analyzing the U.S. Senate in 2003: Similarities, Clusters, and Blocs (Summer 2009). Political Analysis, Vol. 17, Issue 3, pp. 291-310, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1448456 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/pan/mpp006

Aleks Jakulin (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Department of Statistics ( email )

Mail Code 4403
New York, NY 10027
United States

Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy ( email )

Columbia University in the City of New York
420 West 118th Street, 8th Floor, Mail Code 3355
New York City, NY 10027
United States

Wray Buntine

Helsinki Institute of Information Technology ( email )

Finland

HOME PAGE: http://www.hiit.fi/u/buntine/

Timothy M. La Pira

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Holly Brasher

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

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