Posts about the CongressDB site, which tracks Congressional voting records and earmarks.

Everything Old Is New Again

Welcome to the new, somewhat improved, and slightly different Fighting29th.

Other than the appearance, the main changes are the comment procedure, and the earmarks and significant votes sections.

Comments are now "threaded" so you can hit the "reply" link to reply to a previous comment. Also, you should only be asked the "CAPTCHA" question once, and then your email and name will be remembered for a while. The security question is now a little simple math. Since few were using logins, I didn't bother re-implementing them in this version.

Earmarks and Significant Votes are now linked to pages in CongressDB that contain data from Taxpayers for Common Sense and Project VoteSmart. Both of those are new CongressDB features, by the way. You can look up other legislator's 2007 earmarks and their Key Votes (according to Project VoteSmart) if you're interested.

An old friend used to say "all change is decline". That's not my intention, so please send me an email if you see anything amiss.

Introducing CongressDB

I'm happy to announce the first public beta of my new site, CongressDB.  Its goal is to make the charts and graphs that I use available for every Member of Congress.  CongressDB has its own blog, and I'll be posting there on topics related to the technology of CongressDB, and my views on open source journalism.  This post is cross-posted to both the Fighting 29th and CongressDB, but I won't be cluttering up the Fighting29th with information CongressDB postings.

CongressDB is in its infancy, but it contains two features that I wasn't able to find on the other great services on the Internet.

The first is cohorts.  CongressDB is built to allow the comparison of a
given legislator's votes with others.  In the current version,  I've
included a couple of demonstration cohorts, such as members of the same
party, the complete chamber, and, in the case of the House, close
races.  So, for example, Randy Kuhl is a member of cohorts "Entire
House", "House Republicans" and "Close Republican House Races".  

Vote groups is the second feature of CongressDB.  For the House, the current example groups include "All House Votes", "Close House Votes", and "Significant Votes".  That last group is my hand-picked set of votes that is available for Randy Kuhl on the Fighting 29th.  (By the way, that page is now auto-generated from CongressDB, and I hope to offer the same feature to other bloggers.)

CongressDB allows the user to view stats for any combination of cohort and vote group.  Those stats include the usual (votes for, against, absent or present) as well as the one I find most interesting: votes against party.  This is the number of times the voter was on the other side of the tally from the rest of his party.

kuhl_against_party_close_races_2007_10_09.pngCongressDB has one basic graph, but it's also one I haven't seen anywhere else (perhaps because it only makes sense to me).  It places the chosen legislator in context with his cohort.  The example graph on the right shows Randy Kuhl's votes  against party on significant votes, compared to all other Republicans in close races.  The green line shows the average voter in close-race Republicans, who voted against party 17 times.  Kuhl's value of 20 votes against party shows that he's a little more independent than average.  

I'll be posting more on where I'd like to take CongressDB, but right now I'm interested in just getting it out there and working out the inevitable bugs.   If you notice anything amiss, please drop me a note in the comments or via email.

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