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Congressional Noise
Seeking Clarity in the Political Fog
Click The Intro Link Below To See How This Works
Overview
Home
Comparator
Search
Visualize
Scenarios
Games
Decisions
Retro
Politics is War
Know Your Adversary And Win!
Fail To And You Will Lose

Don't be fooled by overly polite congressional debates. This is war. The Capital Floor is a battleground. In every session, ground is given and taken. How well do you know your adversary? The smallest detail could give you the competitive advantage. Congressional Noise(CN) drills deep into each congressional member. CN shows you the connections, illustrates the power structure, helps to uncover the real motivations, the real agenda behind each political front. CN can be instrumental in crafting a strategy that anticipates which direction Congress may go.

At the bottom of all the screens who will see a link that says Bucket. Bucket is used to carry information from one screen to the next. It allows the user to keep track of interesting people and groups. There is a notes section for jotting down anything that might be useful over the course of an analytical session.

Use these functional areas, divided between data exploration and analysis to gain the advantage:

  • Comparator - Multi-dimensional viewing of members
  • Search - See all members and filter over many dimensions
  • Visualize - See the Committee Membership. Where is power centered?
  • Scenarios - Describe possible outcomes and consequences
  • Games - Politics is war. View it as a war game
  • Decisions - You now have the data. Make a choice
  • Retro - Was it the correct choice? Feedback for continuous improvement

Click on any of the functional areas to the left to get a description of each.

This is where it all begins.

The main areas of the Home tab are:
  • First - Congressional Noise Splash page. This is the default page and first one you will see if you don't pick an alternate page.
  • Intro - This lists a description of each functional area of Congressional Noise. Each functional area corresponds to a tab on the top of the browser page.
  • Election2014 - This page is an interactive view of the political balance across the US. It allows the users to perform what-if experiments to see how the balance of power could shift depending on which direction a state goes. Currently this is implemented for the Senate and will be for the House soon. It will also include projections from outside groups that can be used as starting points in the analysis.
  • Bills - Experimental This pages lists the current state of congressional bills. How many submitted, enacted, largest number from the House, the Senate and largest individual submitter from each chamber.
  • State Viz - Experimental This page explores the in/out flows of federal dollars across all states.
  • Lobbyist - Experimental This page explores the connections between lobbyists and congressional members.

Compare across a group of congressional members. On the left side off the page is a directory of congressional members shown by state and alphabetically. Select a member by double clicking on them to add them to the comparator panel. Once there are more than 6 congressional members selected you can scroll right or left to see the members that aren't currently shown. To get rid of any member from the comparator display just click on the X on the upper right of the member profile. If you want to clear all of them click on the clear button on the lower right hand side of the comparator panel. You can also drag and drop any of the profile panels currently displayed in the comparator to re-order them.

Using the filter links on the bottom you can view any one of a number of attribute sets for each profile. For example, clicking on the committee link will show committee membership. The number displayed shows the members current rank on the committee.

If you have the committee filter selected you can see the sub-committee membership by mousing over the line item that says what rank they are on for a specific committee. This will tell you the sub-committees they are on and what their rank is on those sub-committees.

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Filter on a wide variety of criteria including:

  • Demographics - Age, Sex, DOB
  • Personality - Ten personality characteristics
  • Physical - Hair Color and Type, Eye Color, Height, Weight
  • Education and Work Experience - Degrees, Place of Employment and Types of Employment
  • Committees - Membership on committee, sub-committees and rank on those committees
  • Caucus - Caucus Membership
  • PACs - Information on which PACs support

Search by default will show all the congressional members. At the top of each column, the user can filter the records by that column. For instance if the user wants all congressional members that are greater than the age of 60 they would put 60 into the filter field in the age column and the records displayed would just be the members of congress who are older than 60.

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The user can filter the listed members based on the following:
  • States
  • Political Party
  • Religions
  • Races
  • Sex
  • Social Philosophy
  • Age

Committee Membership visualization is the primary focus of the Visualize tab. The user can see the relationships between individual members, groups of members and committee composition over a wide variety of characteristics. The congressional members are visually identified by their name and political party (red for Republican, blue for Democrat). The committees are identified by name and the color black. Mousing over any of the members will display a pop-up with the committee membership information.

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The user can filter the displayed members based on the following:
  • Committees
  • States
  • Political Party
  • Religions
  • Races
  • Sex
  • Number of Members
  • Social Philosophy
  • Age

The intent of developing a scenario is to clearly identify all dimensions related to political events such as the players, the events themselves, why they are happening, the position(s) each faction is taking and why,  the fence sitters, who are needed by either side in order to pass legislation.

Pick an event or position that has two or more opposing factions. A current example would be the budget fight. There are two primary sides that are battling to determine what the final budget will be. A lot of debate, negotiation and compromise are introduced and bargained with.  Use the scenarios function to clearly detail all the facets of an event.

The first iteration of the scenarios function will describe the situation, the best case, worst case and target scenarios. The goal will be to add more detail, including descriptions of all the players and the issues as a better understanding of what the scenarios function should do evolves.

For example, with the budget battle, the user would describe in detail each of the following areas and how they might or might not be connected:
  • Event - A bill is the usual basis for a scenario. Election is another rich area, whether mid-term or presidential. Appointment Confirmation is another
  • Players - Who is involved
  • Pros/Cons - What are the positions and why
  • Behind the Positions - Are there ulterior reasons for each position
  • Outside Influence - Who may be influencing: lobbyist, corporations, previous politicians
  • Fence Sitters - Who is needed to pass or halt legislation.

Games allow the user to interactively explore the consequences of actions taken by them and their opponents. Given the framework of a particular scenario the user can test what happens if they make certain decisions at specific times. The user can see how their opponents and allies might respond. By running through the different paths, the user can help determine which path will give them the best outcome.

Once the games have been completed, the user will have one or more possible options to pursue. This tab describes the options with estimates of the consequences of taking any one action. For example, the budget bill could have the following possible paths:

  • Choice 1 - Required a deal with Politician A and B. Alienated Politician C.
    • Considerations - Sacrificed the the relationship with Politician C. Built a new relationship with A and B
  • Choice 2 - Required a deal with Politician C.
    • Considerations - Stayed with current relationships. Are they working?
  • Choice 3 - No Deal with anyone
    • Considerations - Want to stall any further work on this bill. Ideally want the bill to die.

The decision has been made. So what happen? Compare what actually happened to the decision the user made.

Evaluate the following:

  • Was the outcome what was desired
  • Was there new relationships created
  • Were there relationships foregone
  • What are the near term consequences
  • What are the long term consequences
  • How does your perception of your position change because of this outcome
  • For your future decisions can you adjust your position, your alliances, your thinking
Current Senate Balance
Projected Senate Balance
Secure Senate Seats
36 Seats Open
Reset Viz
Click Any Red or Blue State To Alter The Senate Balance
Congressional Bills - 113th Congress
as of
February 4, 2014
5971 Submitted
78 Enacted
369 Submitted By Senate Finance
934 Submitted By House Ways and Means
212 Submitted By Senator Tom Coburn, R-OK
80 Submitted By Representative Alan Grayson, D-FL
Work in progress. Check back to see an interactive tool for diving deep into the process of enacting laws. Examine who is submitting from which committee. Who is successful and who is making a lot of noise.
Federal Taxation and Spending By State
Work In Progress. Please check back to see an interactive analysis of which state spends the Most, the Least and how it compares to what taxes they send to Washington.
The Lobbyist Factor