Here are two quick looks at the roll call last night from the House of Representatives, concurring with the Senate amendments to HR8. This was the so-called Fiscal Cliff vote, roll call 659 of the 2nd session of the 112th U.S. House of Representatives.
I’ve plotted the Ayes and Noes against each representative’s “ideal point”, a summary measure of each representative’s voting history based on previous roll calls in the 112th House, usually interpreted as an estimates of each legislator’s “left-right” or liberal/conservative ideological position. Democrats are shown in blue (and cluster to the left of the graph); Republicans are in red, on the right.
Notably, Speaker Boehner voted Aye, just the 9th time he has recorded a vote in the 112th Congress, which is not unusual for Speakers. With such a short, a largely one-sided short voting history, the algorithm puts Boehner out on the right-hand tail of the ideal point distribution. Majority Leader Cantor voted Nay.
The 1st graph shows a probit curve overlaid on the points, an estimate of the probability that a legislator occupying a particular point on the left-right continuum votes for the measure. Since all but 16 Democrats voted for the measure, the curve falls as we move from left to right across the page.
The 2nd graph fits probit curves separately for each party. The interesting action is among the Republicans, with the vote cleaving Republicans 151 – 85, and largely along ideological grounds. The ideal point estimate predicts Republican voting on this measure reasonably well (AUC = .816, Brier = .166).
In addition to being a rare instance of the Speaker casting a roll call vote, it is also an even rarer case of the Speaker voting against the majority of his party, including the majority leader. It might be a nice exercise to see when this last happened. We’ll see if this costs Boehner his job as Speaker; I suspect not.