Sep 08, 2023 | 15:00—16:00
Gavin Rees will present a talk on Friday, September 8, 2023, from 3 to 4 PM in Room 201.
Title: A Behavioral Approach to Modeling U.S. Senatorial Voting Patterns
Abstract: U.S. Congressional roll call voting is widely studied to understand the behavior of legislators and the dynamics of the legislative process. Current approaches, such as DW-NOMINATE, model voting as a utility maximization problem in an “ideological space” and require parameter counts that scale with the number of votes. We instead model roll call voting as the interplay and competition of behavioral tendencies, such as ideological bias and second-order interactions, formalized with statistical physics techniques. This behavioral approach uses an order of magnitude fewer parameters, outperforms DW-NOMINATE, and provides a parsimonious, interpretable model of roll call voting. Applied to all sessions of the U.S. Senate since 1971, it demonstrates trends in polarization, the tendency towards unanimity, and a decrease in behavioral complexity.