KDD Papers

Evaluating U.S. Electoral Representation with a Joint Statistical Model of Congressional Roll-Calls, Legislative Text, and Voter Registration Data

Zhengming Xing (Criteo Labs);Sunshine Hillygus (Duke University);Lawrence Carin (Duke University)


Extensive information on 3 million randomly sampled United States citizens is used to construct a statistical model of constituent preferences for each U.S. congressional district. This model is linked to the legislative voting record of the legislator from each district, yielding an integrated model for constituency data, legislative roll-call votes, and the text of the legislation. The model is used to examine the extent to which legislators’ voting records are aligned with constituent preferences, and the implications of that alignment (or lack thereof) on subsequent election outcomes. The analysis is based on a Bayesian formalism, with fast inference via a stochastic variational Bayesian analysis.