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Thursday, April 10, 2014
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
CNLS Conference Room (TA-3, Bldg 1690)

Postdoc Seminar

The Rise of Partisanship and the Emergence of Super-Cooperators in the U.S. Congressional House of Representatives

Clio Andris
MIT

It is widely reported that partisanship between Democrat and Republican legislators in the United States Congress is at an historic high, resulting in a lack of productivity and innovation in Congress. We quantify the level of cooperation between Democrat and Republican Party members in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1949-2012. We define a network of representatives during this time frame, where edges between representatives denote high agreements rates in roll call votes (a.k.a. proposed legislation and motions). The result is a B(n,2)–cell undirected graph of pair-wise relationships between representatives. In sum, these networks contain 3,424,343 cross-party (CP) pairs (those comprised of a single Republican and single Democrat) and 2,239,357 same-party (SP) pairs (those comprised of two Democrats or two Republicans). We compare the mutual agreement rates on legislative decisions between CP and SP pairs and find that despite short-term fluctuations, the average CP pair would cooperate more than the average SP pair 13% of the time in the 1970’s, but only 0.5% in the 2000’s. This partisanship or non-cooperation in the U.S. Congress has been increasing exponentially for over 60 years with no sign of abating or reversing. Yet, a unique group of representatives from a specific U.S. geographic region continue to cooperate across party lines despite growing partisanship. Moreover, we find that cooperation is in the hands of very few individuals. Before 1990, no one member drove more than 5% of cooperation, but today a single representative can drive nearly 50% of all cross-party cooperation in Congress.

Host: Cihan Ackay 7 1078