30 July 2008
Congressmen are more extreme than the public
An interesting graph depicting the ideological position of members of the U.S. Congress (dashed lines) compared to the U.S. public in general (solid line).
House and Senate positions were estimated based on their voting patterns, and the public one from survey questionnaires. The overall pattern is that congressional representatives are more extreme than the public in general - both to the right and to the left. Further graphs at the link show that in "Republican states" the congressmen are to the right of their consituents, and in "Democratic states" they are to the left of the voters. It is postulated that this outcome ultimately derives from the winner-take-all nature of the election process.
While some may argue over the accuracy of the methodology, it seems to me that the pattern depicted is logical and provides at least a partial explanation of why Congress is frequently so ineffectual.
For visitors who are new to WYWKIWDBI, I have also appended below my own position on the political compass, so you'll know what biases to expect in this blog: