Friday, March 7, 2008

Oh Man, I Wish I Had Not Found This (JM)

As much as Slate's Delegate Counter was addictive (imagine how bad it would have been if they had had one at the beginning of this process, I would have spent hours setting up scenarios whereby Biden was facing Mittmentum and all sorts of other wonderful dreams) I feel that the new Congressional Power Rankings might be more injurious in the long run. The rankings measure position, influence, earmarks, and legislative activity. They give breakdowns of each category, but don't detail exactly how they measure indirect influence (worry not dear readers, I have an e-mail out to them as we speak).

Anyway, a few interesting notes. It seems to me that the most powerful members of congress right now are amongst the most liberal. Notably high ranked members of the House include the very liberal Nancy Pelosi, Charlie Rangel, Barney Frank and David Obey. In the Senate it is a bit less true, Kennedy and Leahy being amongst the top ranked liberals. I suspect the reason for this is less about the political temperament of the country and more about seniority and incumbency. Very liberal districts are often likely to elect and reelect their representative, and that person is likely to be more left of center given their constituency and the safety of their district. Over time this will lead to more power through seniority and public recognizability. It's an interesting effect, because in general parties come to power on the back of centrists, but then turn power over to the less moderate portion of the party due to congressional rules and the nature of the political world.

Once I get an answer on what data points are used to determine measurements of indirect influence, I am going to run data analysis of power rankings as compared to liberal-conservative rankings. My hypothesis is that amongst the most influential Democrats we will find a heavily liberal tendency and amongst Republicans we will find a fairly conservative tendency at the top (as in party leaders and such), but then in the middle to near top we will find more moderate negotiators. Anyway, this is going to be such a colossally interesting giant waste of time.

Finally, I also discovered there is such a thing as fantasy congress, but since even Dennis abjectly refused to play in a fantasy congress league with me, I think perhaps it is best if I avoid it. Besides I already spend enough time on insanely competitive fantasy baseball I really should spend my time wondering if Steny Hoyer is going to drop to the second round.

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