Graphical Analysis Of The 2008 Utah Senate

Here’s a new tool I’ve been working on for data analysis stuffed full of political intrigue.

This is a chart of the 2008 Utah Senate. Each senator attracts the others based on how often the two agreed on non-unanimous roll call votes on bills in the 2008 General Session. If any two get too close on the chart compared to their voting behavior, they start to repel each other. Party and partisan affiliation are ignored except to color the squares.

I find it astonishing how stable the final results are. Margaret Dayton (R-Provo), Howard Stephenson (R-Draper), and Mark Madsen (R-Lehi) always drop out into the reptilian reactionary tail while Scott McCoy (D-SLC) and Ross Romero (D-SLC) elevate the progressive head of the body. Peter Knudsen (R-Brigham City) and Kevin Van Tassell (R-Vernal) sit in between the main body of Republicans and the Democrats.

See if you can make them match the seating chart like I did. Try dragging Romero into the middle of the Republicans and watch them part like the Red Sea. See if you can balance Margaret Dayton between Romero and McCoy so that she can’t go either way and gets stuck in an unstable equilibrium among the Democrats. Or just hit reset and watch how stable the results are.

Remember, I didn’t program any fixed end state into this chart. The patterns you find are the result of actual roll call behavior and a simple rule that draws closer senators who agree on each vote. If Mark Madsen always ends up in the same place on your chart, that’s his choice and not mine.


Click start to begin the simulation.

Note that this is an extract from a beta version of some new visualization tools and you can probably crash it. Also, unlike the rest of this site which is available under a Creative Commons license this post and the scripts and technologies used to build it are ©2008 Brian Earl Watkins all rights reserved and not available for Creative Commons licensing.

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