Social and business interactions, like collaboration, trade, and politics, are based on agreements as well as on disagreements about a number of relevant issues. In particular, when it comes to politics we can observe different positions of political parties or individual politicians regarding various issues.

In our efforts to understand the dynamics between stakeholders in the political arena we developed a methodology for mapping out the positions of stakeholders towards a set of selected issues. Our approach uses clustering of stakeholder voting patterns to form groups with similar positions on the issues, and combines it with a novel visualization of a bipartite signed network to show the polarization of stakeholders on the selected issues. The developed approach is used to detect consensual and segregating issues within a population and to identify the subgroups holding a particular position towards these issues.

We were looking at the voting of Senators in the United States Congress since the new presidency in January 2017. Using our visualization methodology we present below how senators have voted on the 35 bills or nominations in the period from January 12 until April 7, 2017. Central nodes in the graph show Bills or Nominations that were the votes about. The color of the central nodes indicates the position of president Trump, green for support and red for oppose. The pair of arced nodes on the left and the right hand side represent the two largest groups of Senators that were identified be our algorithms to have voted most differently. This separation perfectly aligns with the party membership, Democrat (blue nodes) and Republican (red nodes), where the two independent Senators (grey nodes) were grouped with the Democrat senators. The links between a Senator node and a Bill or Nomination node in the center indicate the support or a “Yea” vote, in green, and opposition or a “Ney” vote, in red. We can observe an almost unanimous voting pattern of the Republican senators, whereas the Democrat and independent Senators show more diversity in the voting behavior.

From the graph we can also see how aligned are the votes of the Senators with the position of the president. The color of the central nodes indicates the position of the president. We can see that the president has an almost unanimous support from the Republican Senators on all the evaluated bills and nominations.

The interactive graph can be enlarged to full screen and further explored. Hover over the nodes to see its connections and click on the nodes for details.

We would be happy to hear your thoughts on this subject as well as on the presented analysis and the visualization approach. For responses please use the comments section below. Thank you.




The SIMPOL Project is currently funded by the H2020 European grant DOLFINS (no. 640772) in the Global Systems Science area of the Future Emerging Technologies program.