Why did we think the Supercommittee would agree?

I have been taking a break from marketing for the last few weeks and making unified maps of house and senate members using commonalities in their bill voting behavior. My methodology is similar to that used to map consumer brands described in my July 6, 2011 blog entry. The figure shows a map of the 112th (the current) congress where members are colored by party affiliation (red Republicans and blue Democrats), except for members of the Supercommittee (i.e., the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction) who are colored green and labeled. Members that are located near each other (e.g., Kerry and Murray) have a history of voting the same way on the same legislation, however members that are located far apart (e.g., Kerry and Upton) tend to vote differently. Note how few Supercommittee members have a history of voting the same way on legislation. Indeed, if I was of a conspiratorial mind I would think that this committee was deliberately assembled so they would not agree. However, as a reasonable observer I see some genius in this ensemble: if by some miracle the committee did come up with an agreement it would probably be more likely to make it through the two houses and actually be implemented. What’s really interesting is the perfect diversity used to create the committee. Someone at the Whitehouse is doing very deep analyses.

A bill-voting map of the 112th congress showing Supercommittee members.