Adventures in Everyday

Clockwork Politics
March 13, 2008, 3:10 pm
Filed under: biology, dystopious, politics, science

US Congressional Control

I don’t want to look like the sort of citizen who knows more about American politics than those of my own country, but a recent study on party control in the U.S. Congress is quite interesting. Check out the graph of seat shares below.


According to a Discovery Channel news article, a mathematician analyzed House and Senate seats with some of the same tools used in sunspot research. As the graph above shows, party power seems to have shifted very regularly every 12 to 15 years, since 1854.

Proportion of Democratic Seats = (6.67 x 10-4) x year.

In population ecology, there is a concept called carrying capacity (K). I’m sure you’ve all heard of it. From the graph above it seems as though there is a chaotic democratic seat fluctuation around a K value of about 0.5%. Is there a democratic seats carrying capacity in the House? I would humbly argue that there probably is.

  • From the article,

Previous research has shown that voters like familiar faces; incumbent candidates typically pull constituents toward their party of choice. But voters also drift away over time, put off by the failed policies of those in power, wanting change.

Just like in animal populations, says I. The failed policies mentioned here are analogous to species-specific diseases or predators. Both parties have them and, accordingly, both parties are naturally kept in check in the same way that animal populations are.

But it seems like the fraction of democratic seats in the House is gradually increasing in a linear rate, which I’ve very roughly estimated in the formula, K = (6.67 x 10-4)x. Perhaps there is a larger trend at work here, but, should the two-party system continue on forever, it seems to me like even this larger trend would be kept in balance and both parties would forever hover around a fairly stable K value.


1 Comment so far
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When I leave a comment on your blog, it scrolls right off the side of the screen. Crazy.

Anyway, I was going to say that apparently it’s no coincidence that the Republicans have an elephant and the Democrats have a donkey. Animals indeed.

Comment by Allison

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