Monday, October 08, 2007

Power in Congress


Tucson, Arizona. A Web site called Congress.org maintains a scoring system for ranking the level of influence of each member of Congress according to various measures including seniority, committees, legislation, and perhaps other factors. Clearly, belonging to the majority party makes a difference. The majority leaders sit at the top of their chambers, and those in the majority party dominate the rankings.

In the US Senate, Democrats scored an average 24.0 while Republicans got an average of 15.5. In the house, Democrats scored an average 20.1 and Republicans averaged 10.2.


For our Senators we have the following (score followed by rank)

McCain(R)----26.75-----18
Kyl(R)----------23.1------31

For the House we have:

Ed Pastor(D)-------------20.34----102
Raul Grijalva(D)---------16.02----180
Gabrielle Giffords(D)---12.50-----252
Rick Renzi(R)------------11.78----274
Harry Mitchell(D)--------11.00----302
John Shadegg(R)---------9.28----335
Franks(R)------------------8.03----382
Flake(R)-------------------6.09----418

To eliminate the influence of minority/majority, let's just rank inside each party.

Among the GOP only, McCain ranks 3rd and Kyl is 6th, indicating what we already know, which is that both carry weight in their party.

Among the 201 Republicans in the house:

Renzi------61
Shadegg----103
Franks-----146
Flake------176

Among the 235 Democrats:

Pastor-----102
Grijalva---180
Giffords---201
Mitchell---221

The separation into parties does not eliminate the majority / minority impact on rankings. In the minority party, Renzi's 11.78 puts him at the 30th percentile in his party, while Giffords higher 12.5 only places her at 85th percentile. Such results do not surprise. It seems reasonable that the majority party, gaining power, becomes a far more competitive environment where all members, now chairing committees or gaining stature in committees, agendas, etc., measure higher, so the intra-party rank grows far more steep. Pastor's staying at 102 and Grijalva's staying at 180 implies Democratic domination of the top 200 slots, which is accurate. Only a dozen or so Republicans make the top 200, an indication of a problematic algorithm that does not take into account the reality of the system.

Regarding another ranking, the Blognetnews Arizona ranking of most influential political blogs in Arizona seems to be stabilizing. Your humble blogger's place appears to be settling in around tenth. I don't know what Politico Mafioso is doing (link to right), but I suspect he's figured something out. Sure, it was fun to be ranked first a few weeks ago, but I knew it was nonsense and said so. Stacy hasn't posted anything in almost two months, and I don't understand why they aren't getting RRR and Blog for AZ.

As I've said, it would be interesting to see something rigorous about the influence of the blogosphere. Clearly, its importance in politics is growing, but I have not seen anything substantive, especially about anything local.

6 Comments:

Blogger Eli Blake said...

I have serious questions about this ranking.

How could Rick Renzi, who was never anything other than a pot for pork to begin with, and who now sits on no committees, is not running for re-election and is waiting for his coming indictment on corruption charges, be the most influential Republican in our house delegation?

I could make a snide remark about what that would say about Shadegg, Franks and Flake, but honestly, how can you take a ranking that puts Renzi that high seriously?

10/08/2007 3:38 PM  
Blogger Dustin said...

I don't know. Influence is pretty ethereal. Maybe one day we'll have a metric for it, but to me it's the same thing as clutch hitting, veteran leadership, and clubhouse chemistry.

10/08/2007 4:08 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Eli,

I have no doubt that the system is flawed, and I also don't know how quickly they update or re-measure their metrics. In in very general terms would I take any information from it.

Perhaps grouping into quartiles would show a fairly accurate picture, something like:

Most - Pelosi, Rangel, Murtha
More - Pastor, Grijalva
Less - Giffords, Mitchell (barely)
Least - Franks, Flake

with of course party majority creating a huge skew.

Granted, I live in CD 8, not CD 5, but words in my radar do show Giffords "growing" in "influence" more quickly than Mitchell. The numbers are consistent with this. Regarding Renzi, I have no idea and agree with you.

The blog ranking borders on silly, but the idea is interesting.

Also, the semantics are a complete nightmare. What does influence or power actually mean?

10/08/2007 4:30 PM  
Blogger Tony GOPrano said...

X4MR Says: "I don't know what Politico Mafioso is doing (link to right), but I suspect he's figured something out."

I have figured out that posting the most informative articles is the key. I am only 1 person vs. a huge group of Clones. So you can throw your "theory" out the window....

10/08/2007 5:53 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Relax, Tony. Read slowly and you'll notice the words "I don't know" and "suspect."

I think as highly of the AZ Political Intel blog as you do. Such sites influence no one.

I don't understand when you say you are only one person. Your blog suggests half a dozen or more contributers. Is that not correct?

SA, AZ8th, and many blogs have a team of writers. I can promise this blog is only one person.

I'm not part of the conflict between you and the clones you mention. I know some blogs are on your side.

A ranking that lists the Intel site as 4th in influence must be highly flawed which has implications for both of our ratings.

10/08/2007 7:56 PM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

I'd love to actually know the Blognetnews algorithm, it would be interesting to dissect and try to improve on.

10/09/2007 6:50 AM  

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