Tuesday 10 February 2015

Legislative Explorer

An article in PS (one of the APSA [American Political Science Association] journals) - "Legislative Explorer: Data-Driven Discovery of Lawmaking" - drew my attention to this interesting and useful application. At first sight it gives a visual representation of how bills make their way (or don't make progress) through Congress. The path of every bill is shown from introduction to its eventual end - which, in a very few cases, involves becoming law. It's a superb visualisation - and as an educator - I really appreciate how representing things in different ways can aid understanding (and assist long-term retention).

But upon a closer look this app has even more uses. It contains data from the 93rd Congress to the present day - about specific Bills (and their passage); and members of Congress. I was playing with it at the weekend and was able to track the movement in ideological position of certain legislators over their career - both in terms of their move on the liberal/conservative scale - and their relative position within each Congress.

The visual contrast between the spread of ideological position within and between parties was also evident from the graphics.

There are also some very useful statistics on the success rates of bills, and you can see how general progress develops of the life of each Congress.

I can see that I'll be using this tool a lot!

You can visit it at http://www.legex.org/app.html