Links for January 1-7, 2023 | Polarization in the US House; The "chaos caucus"; Midterm backlashes; And a belated Happy New Year
Kevin McCarthy, call your office
Happy Sunday, subscribers, and a belated Happy New Year to you all. My 2022 was better than 2021 and I hope we can continue the positive trend.
This post is my regular weekly roundup of articles/books/charts etc. I’ve read and media I’ve watched over the last 7 days that I think are interesting and worth a fun discussion.
The first point this week is a bit atypically in the weeds. You’ve been warned.
1. A popular measure of partisan polarization in America is underestimating the true depth of the Congressional divide
Befriend an expert on the American Congress or the history of our party politics and it is only a matter of time before they mention the phrase “DW-NOMINATE.” It’s an “algorithm,” they tell you, that captures the ideology of every member of Congress based on how they vote, you see. Developed by political scientists Keith T. Poole and the late Howard Rosenthal in the 1980s and 90s, DW-NOMINATE scores can tell us that Mick Mulvaney is more conservative than, say, Adam Kinzinger. At least, that was true from 2011 to 2013 during their first terms in the chamber.
But the thing about algorithms is that, by simplifying the rules of the world, they have a tendency to strip out nuances and make poor predictions on edge cases. This problem is especially salient when making predictions on unseen observations from the future. And that’s where this particular problem comes from.
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