Legislators’ roll-call voting behavior increasingly corresponds to intervals in the political spectrum

David Schoch & Ulrik Brandes

October 15, 2020

Abstract

Scaling techniques such as the well known NOMINATE position political actors in a low dimensional space to represent the similarity or dissimilarity of their political orientation based on roll-call voting patterns. Starting from the same kind of data we propose an alternative, discrete, representation that replaces positions (points and distances) with niches (boxes and overlap). In the one-dimensional case, this corresponds to replacing the left-to-right ordering of points on the real line with an interval order. As it turns out, this seemingly simplistic one-dimensional model is sufficient to represent the similarity of roll-call votes by U.S. senators in recent years. In a historic context, however, low dimensionality represents the exception which stands in contrast to what is suggested by scaling techniques.

Scientific Reports 10 (1), 1-9