Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How Partisan is Kansas?

Last week, the Washington Post published a blog post describing a tool created by the Sunlight Foundation based on data provided via the Open States project that shows how liberal or conservative lawmakers in each state are; along with the success of sponsored legislation and a wealth of other information.

Here is the chart for the Kansas Senate:


And for the Kansas House:


The Success of sponsored legislation axis "estimates each legislator's effectiveness in terms of the success of their primary-sponsored legislation." It seems the House is much more uniform on this scale than the Senate; indicating that all the representatives with a dot along the middle of the graph (between 6.00 and 7.00) were each able to get a single bill they sponsored passed into law.  

The ideal point estimates axis "analyzes the voting history of a group of people and yields a set of values that locate each person on two axes, with the distance between each unique pair of people proportionate in some way to the frequency with which they vote together relative to others in their chamber."  The scale goes from more liberal on the left to more conservative on the right.  These charts effectively show the more conservative makeup of both the House and Senate currently.  

For more details, visit The Sunlight Foundation and try the tool for yourself.  


1 comment:

  1. From Jeff Zehnder, Director of Communications and Grants, USD #345 Seaman:

    I saw your blog about the Sunlight Foundation partisan rankings and wanted to let you know about something that skews their statistics. When you look at the graphs, particularly on the House, it seems very strange that every lawmaker is in one of three places: the top, the bottom, or the exact middle. The reason for that is that in Kansas, bills are generally not sponsored by an individual, but rather the committee they are introduced in. It's why so many lawmakers have zero accomplishments, according to the statistics. If you're bored and go through the ksleg website, you'll see most bills are listed as 'Sponsored by the Committee on the Judiciary' or 'Sponsored by the Committee on Federal and State Affairs.'

    It's an unusual quirk in Kansas's system. While some bills do have a person's name on them, it's usually because of one of the following reasons: 1. It's a social issue a group of lawmakers specifically want to be attached to. 2. It has no chance of passage. 3. It is a non-binding resolution or a Constitutional Amendment resolution. All Constitutional Amendments are sponsored by actual lawmakers.

    This is certainly something the Sunlight Foundation really wouldn't have a way of finding out, because it's not highlighted anywhere. However, for most lawmakers, especially rank-and-file members, the only thing they may have their name on is a resolution commending a local high school athletic team that won the state championship.

    While bills generally do have a real legislator behind them, you usually can only find out who by getting directly in touch with the Committee Secretary

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