Coffee Hour: Clio Andris "The Rise of Partisanship and the Emergence of Super-Cooperators in the U.S. Congress"

Friday, October 10, 2014 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m. The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.

The Rise of Partisanship and the Emergence of Super-Cooperators in the U.S. Congress

About the talk

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 1970s, but only 0.5% in the 2000s. Moreover, a group of representatives from specific U.S. geographic regions continue to cooperate across party lines despite growing partisanship. Increasingly, this cooperation is in the hands of very few individuals, so much that today a single representative can drive nearly 50% of all cross-party cooperation in Congress.



Suggested reading

and our working paper here:

About the speaker

Clio AndrisClio Andris is an assistant professor of Geographic Information Science at Penn State. She has recently held postdocs at MIT Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), the Santa Fe Institute and Los Alamos National Laboratory. She holds a Ph.D. in Urban Information Systems, and is interested in urban social connectivity, institutions, social networks, and GIScience.


Angela Rogers