The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Powell Amendment: more intriguing possibilities

Trouble is, the sources with which to explore them are somewhat lacking!

Following up my March 27 piece, I've been gathering together the stats for the three Civil Rights Bill votes and making a comparison with the three votes (amendment, recommit, passage) relating to the Powell Amendment (spreadsheets).

One clear area of interest lies in the members who switched their votes between the vote on the Powell Amendment itself and that on passage of the Civil Rights Bill: no fewer than 76 members who opposed the Powell Amendment voted for the Civil Rights Bill; and 13 members switched their votes in the opposite direction [1].

Why? Numbers can only pose the question. For example, the 13 appear to be sprinkled liberally around the non-slave areas (North, Midwest and West - one (Short - MO) from the Border), but all but one (Tumulty - NJ) is Republican.

Of the 76, the Dem/GOP split is 42-34. Two GOP (TN) switched, as did a certain Byrd (WV). Udall (AZ) went with him [2]

The trouble with the wretched Powell Amendment is - so far as I can see - that it has taken up by polisci profs as a sort of parlour trick (as an example of cyclical voting), with a heavy emphasis on the maths [3]. And little or no grunt work has been done, district by district, to explain the votes on regular, non-numeric grounds.

That's the problem with Voteview: it carries you much further than you expected, then kicks you out of the car somewhere in northern Quebec.

  1. The pattern of switching between passage of the the school construction bill and the civil rights bill is different.

  2. As ever with House roll calls, I'm really struggling with name recognition.

  3. I'm loathe to allow personal ignorance of maths to suggest that some may prefer to show off what they can do at a keyboard rather than burrow into musty archives in the back of beyond.

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