Senate Dynamics: Member Vote Patterns, Pt 2

On Monday, we looked at how member vote patterns illustrate party cohesion and offered a table providing some insight into which members are the most likely to buck the chamber’s consensus. Today we’ll examine which members are the most likely to vote with the average Democrat or Republican, then delve into some of the more interesting legislative pairings.

Table 1

The most obvious observation of the above tables is that being highly likely to vote with one’s own party does not necessarily correlate to being among the party’s most liberal or conservative members. Since parties are necessarily coalitions, where voting with the average member of one’s party places you on the ideological spectrum depends a great deal on the size and breadth of the party’s coalitions, and the amount of cohesion that exists among members. (See the previous post in this series for measures of party cohesion.)

Some members frequently vote in tandem, demonstrating similar ideological convictions and/or a willingness to follow another’s lead, especially when one member of the duo is in leadership.

Table 2

Several members crop up repeatedly. Many Democrats have voting records largely akin to that of Saslaw, the Democratic Majority Leader. Many Republicans, meanwhile, regularly find themselves opposite Lewis and Petersen.

This does not, however, mean that Lewis and Petersen are necessarily the most liberal or partisan of Democrats; in fact, they are both among the least likely to agree with members of their own party as well. Pairings of two members who frequently vote “nay” will likely lead to greater disagreement, even accounting for partisan differences, and Lewis, Petersen, Stuart, Stanley, Martin, and Obenshain are all uncommonly likely to cast dissenting votes.

Table 3

If ever anything has jumped out in the statistics gathered to date, it’s Deeds’ and Watkins’ comparatively low frequency of voting with colleagues. Particularly in Deeds’ case, the result would appear to be a mix of crossing the aisle and an above-average tendency to vote “nay.”

Interested in crunching the numbers for yourself or comparing your Senator to his or her colleagues? On Monday I’ll post a simple tool that will allow you to do just that.

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Posts in the Senate Dynamics Series:

  1. Floor Consensus
  2. Member Vote Patterns, Part 1
  3. Member Vote Patterns, Part 2 (this post)
  4. Run Your Own Senator Comparisons
  5. The Power of Committees, Part 1 (forthcoming)
  6. The Power of Committees, Part 2 (forthcoming)
  7. Anatomy of Legislative Success (forthcoming)
Posted in Senate of Virginia, Virginia General Assembly, Vote Analysis.