Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Supercommittee's ideal points

Dan Hopkins suggested looking at the ideal points of members of the new Supercommittee, but he didn't actually plot them out, so I'm giving that a shot. The ideal points come from Simon Jackman's August 2nd estimates.

Just eyeballing it, this looks to be a pretty good balance between the parties. The Democrats' points are all between -1.5 and -0.5, and the Republicans' are all between 0.5 and 1.5, with roughly equal proportions of extremists and moderates. The mean ideal point is -.088. Granted, these ideal points are based on all votes and don't tell us much about how these folks will vote on specific budgetary matters like taxes and social programs, and they don't tell us a thing about negotiating style or tenacity, which could be important. But all in all, this looks like a pretty balanced group who should agree on approximately nothing.

Update: At Darren Schreiber's wise suggestion, I've added the mean ideal point for all members across both chambers (in black) and the respective party means across both chambers. Notably, both parties contain three members to the left of their party mean and three to the right.

Further update: Over at Monkey Cage, Sarah Binder uses Poole and Rosenthal's common space ideal points to draw up the same figure -- these have the virtue of treating all members of Congress as though they were in one big chamber instead of a House and a Senate. And you know what? It looks different!
Notably, the Democrats on the committee look somewhat more centrist than the Republicans do, and Baucus looks like more of a moderate outlier for his party than anyone on the right does. Still, see Binder's post for some important points about where a committee majority might come from.

Even further update: Keith Poole himself writes up a great description of the supercommittee members' ideal points, and generates this awesome chart:


Darren Schreiber said...

You should add the party means to give it a bit more context.

Seth Masket said...

Good point! Done.