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I was an Edwards fan.  I voted for him in my primary, even after he dropped out, largely because I couldn't choose an alternative.  Neither Clinton nor Obama are "classist" enough for my liking.  After 8 years of Robin Hood-in-reverse economic policies, it's time for someone to stand up for the poor and middle class, and I just don't see the two remaining candidates that committed to redistributive economic policies like Edwards at least claimed to be.  Yes, I've looked at both candidates policy statements, especially Obama's, in great depth.  So, I've spent a lot of time considering the claims by both candidates and their proponents here at dkos and decided to START doing some of my own investigation rather than relying on the claims of others...

Before I continue, I want to clarify that I'm genuinely undecided about who is the better candidate.  This isn't one of those diaries that seems to be unbiased but clearly isn't once you get further in. I really have no preference now that Edwards is out.  I've been defending Clinton here lately from what I think are unfair personal attacks and untrue claims about her.  But, I've also defended Obama (not so much here, because all the attacks seem to be aimed at Clinton).  Truth is, I'll vote for the nominee, regardless of who it is, unless it is shown down the road that the nominee had sex with small animals.  Even then, I might still vote for him/her, depending on how many times the act was done and how small the animals were.  McCain I won't vote for, because I assume he has had sex with small animals on a regular basis.

Back to doing some investigation... I'm curious about two of the common claims that the candidates and their proponents have made: (1) Obama is all talk and no action, and (2) Clinton is divisive/unable to unite people to accomplish anything (part of this is an electability issue, but not all of it--part is about whether she could accomplish anything progressive as president).  

In order to just simply START addressing these questions somewhat systematically, I was inspired by this diary (got to cite sources; don't want to be a plagiarist or otherwise claim an idea as my own that isn't :^) ), I visited the Library of Congress online and very quickly examined all of both candidates 2007 sponsored resolutions, bills, and amendments just to get my feet wet (in these data--before doing more involved work).  Now, I'll admit, I didn't read even the titles of all of them.  What I was interested in was whether I can START to address the two claims above.  So here are my thoughts (and results):

Hypothesis 1:  If Obama is "all hat and no cattle," and Clinton is hands down the one full of action, then she will have far more bills, etc., that she has sponsored.  Obama should not only have fewer, but should have FEW in total.

Hypothesis 2:  If Clinton is divisive, and Obama is a great uniter (I cringe at that word, after W), then she should have many fewer cosponsors on her bills than Obama.

Results (sponsorship):

Hillary     Obama    
4                      4                 continuing resolutions
7                      4                 resolutions
93                     55                bills
46                     50                amendments
150                    113               TOTAL

Clinton appears to have engaged in more sponsorship than Obama.  Same number of continuing resolutions, more resolutions, more bills (by far), and only a few fewer amendments.  In total, she has sponsored 33% more items than Obama, and most of the advantage is in bills, which are the most involved items.  What does this suggest to me about H1? They're both quite productive.  Clinton is certainly considerably moreso, but there is no basis to the claim that Obama is all talk and no action.

Results (cosponsors)

In all, Hillary's 150 items involved 631 cosponsors, for an average of 4.21 cosponsors per item.  43 of her items (29%) involved no cosponsors.  Obama's 113 items involved 471 cosponsors, for an average of 4.17 cosponsors. 31 of his items had no cosponsors (27%).  What does this suggest to me about H2? Neither seems to have an advantage in terms of being able to garner more support for cosponsorship.  I would take this as evidence that Hillary is not particularly divisive, at least not in Congress, which has been part of the criticism.

So, I would conclude tentatively from these very quick and dirty analyses (and, as a statistician, I hesitate to even call them 'analyses'), that neither criticism by either candidate or proponent is supported here.  Imagine that.  So, I'm still undecided about who's the better candidate.

Of course, this has been a very simple examination. And you are certainly welcome to criticize the validity of my measures.  I guess I'll have to do some more in-depth work later when I have time.

Originally posted to slynch on Wed Feb 20, 2008 at 10:01 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips? (9+ / 0-)

    Hey, I spent a couple hours anyway.

    Evolution: Fact everywhere else, but only a theory in the Republican gene pool. (-8.00/-7.23)

    by slynch on Wed Feb 20, 2008 at 10:01:48 PM PST

    •  Unbiased? (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mijita, nalin, erratic, slynch, rjarnold

      Numbers schnumbers. Diarist is clearly biased against sex with small animals!

      Dean in the Cabinet, please!

      by Osaka on Wed Feb 20, 2008 at 10:07:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  remind me (0+ / 0-)

        is sex with small animals, worse than sex with large animals? Because I sort of feel that it is. But I don't want to be endorsing sex with large animals. But at least they can fight back. And they're probably more...accomodating.

    •  Your neglect of Obama's total record is biased (0+ / 0-)

      With respect to the title and purpose of this Diary, the contents are quite flawed.

      You have not included his Illinois State Assembly service or records which eclipse both Clinton's and his own Senate records by a very wide margin in every respect.

      I suggest you revise this Diary to include his complete record.

      When harmonious relationships dissolve, respect and devotion arise; when a nation falls to chaos, loyalty and patriotism are born - Daodejing (paraphrased)

      by koNko on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 12:58:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're wrong--it isn't biased. (0+ / 0-)

        That would be an unreasonable comparison, given that Clinton doesn't have a state legislature record for comparison.  The only legitimate comparison is his record in the US Senate vs. hers.

        State legislatures are very different from the federal legislature, which handles national issues.  For the presidency, state legislative experience is really not relevant.  I think, if he had been governor, that would be good executive experience and should be considered.  But, that isn't the case.

        Evolution: Fact everywhere else, but only a theory in the Republican gene pool. (-8.00/-7.23)

        by slynch on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 10:03:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't agree. (0+ / 0-)

          If you look at his state record and compare it verses his peers who came into the Illinois Legeslature at the same time, you would conclude he was a very active and productive representative and introdced/sponsored a great deal of worthwhile legislation.

          Why do you say ledgeslative experience is not relevant to evaluating the performance of legislators?

          And why would the preformance of a governer be a better basis to evaluate the effectiveness of a ledgislator when governers do not draft ledgeslation?

          There would be no record to compare.

          Your analysis was based on performance of ledgislators was it not?  
          Or am I missing something?

          When harmonious relationships dissolve, respect and devotion arise; when a nation falls to chaos, loyalty and patriotism are born - Daodejing (paraphrased)

          by koNko on Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 09:43:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm saying that (0+ / 0-)

            state legislative experience isn't relevant to the ability to be a good president.  National legislative experience is more so, because you at least deal with national issues.

            There is no basis for comparing HRC and Obama if you look at his state experience.

            Evolution: Fact everywhere else, but only a theory in the Republican gene pool. (-8.00/-7.23)

            by slynch on Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 11:26:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Is this comparing them (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deadbeat1000

    over a single term or their entire Senate careers?

    Because Clinton has been in the Senate 4 more years than Obama's been...so I'm not sure it's a fair comparison if you are talking about their full length of service in the Senate...

    "People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution. They don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible." --J.R.

    by michael1104 on Wed Feb 20, 2008 at 10:03:52 PM PST

  •  I think they have both been good senators (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mijita, Fabian, slynch, eColt, rjarnold

    I've seen a lot of folks trying really hard to twist the senate records; if not passing along sh*t that was made up out of whole cloth.

  •  One of the best paragraphs ever. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mijita, nalin, slynch, eColt

    Truth is, I'll vote for the nominee, regardless of who it is, unless it is shown down the road that the nominee had sex with small animals.  Even then, I might still vote for him/her, depending on how many times the act was done and how small the animals were.  McCain I won't vote for, because I assume he has had sex with small animals on a regular basis.

  •  Interesting.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barath, slynch

    I would like to see the type of bills, resolutions and amendments. I mean if its just to pass a "Kidney Stone Day or Month", then I say its not that important. But if its to actually do something about health care, civil rights, education, or to help our veterans, or other meaningful issue, than great.

    I really don't know..but I seem to remember some video game thing and a flag burning amendment...sorry, but those just seem so safe.

  •  I don't know that this analysis is worth much (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slynch

    of anything. Bills pick up co-sponsors as they move through the process. Neither Clinton nor Obama spent much time in Washington working on legislation in 2007 so there probably was very little action on their legislation. It would make more sense to look at 2005 and 2006. . . Also, you would need to look at the legislation introduced by other senators that each of them co-sponsored to get a sense of how well each worked with their colleagues.  

    •  all good points (0+ / 0-)

      I would think, though, that cosponsors won't attach themselves to bills that are against their interests, so it says something about the nature of the bills and/or the like/dislike/collegiality of the sponsor.  

      Also, I don't know how fair it would be to Obama to go back to the start of his senate career--he needed some time to get his feet wet.

      but, all good points, nonetheless.  More insight requires more work.

      Evolution: Fact everywhere else, but only a theory in the Republican gene pool. (-8.00/-7.23)

      by slynch on Wed Feb 20, 2008 at 11:01:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  a younger senator will frequently co-sponsor (0+ / 0-)

        a bill with someone with more seniority because he knows that's the way the process works. The co-sponsored bill could even be the younger senator's idea but he chooses to seek out a more senior colleague to serve as the lead sponsor in order to ensure that the bill gets on the committee agenda . .

  •  How much does Party Seniority come into play? (0+ / 0-)
  •  Wow (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, slynch

    Good Job.  I was so hoping that someone would job in and do their own "heavy lifting". Not that it's so heavy.

    I came to the conclusion that they were both perfectly fine Senators. I also noted that Hillary would co-sponsor Barak's bills and he would hers. The more time one spends, the more you discover, and the more questions you want answered. Good Job.

    God is busy somewhere else and left Chad Vader in charge of earth.

    by Grassroots Mom on Wed Feb 20, 2008 at 10:30:51 PM PST

  •  But you left out Obama's other (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko

    legislative experience.  

    "Age is no better, hardly so well, qualified for an instructor as youth, for it has not profited so much as it has lost." Thoreau

    by shigeru on Wed Feb 20, 2008 at 10:33:11 PM PST

  •  Thank you. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slynch, rjarnold

    Can I ask for an encore?

    Re:  "getting stuff done," I'd like to know how many of the bills were throwaway ceremonial things.  I've heard that many bills (by both parties, FWIW) are sort of trifles, minor things.  Any way to make a qualitative analysis, not just a quantitative analysis?

    Re: "unity," I'd be very curious to know how many of the cosponsors were Democrats, vs. how many were Republicans.  I think obviously that if one person has had more Republican cosponsors, then that person has a better claim to unity.

    Just my two cents, but thank you for debunking some myths!  (Aside:  can myths be "bunked"?)

    •  I will go back and look at that tomorrow or (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fabian

      more likely Friday.  I'd like to consider the resolution type (i.e., throwaway vs. substantial--although this difference is correlated with whether the item is a resolution vs. a bill).

      The cosponsors being dem. vs. rep. is an excellent point--the cosponsors are listed, but it will take a while.  But that might give a better idea of who can bring republican support better.

      good question about 'bunked' and 'debunked'.  One of those weird words like discombobulated.  Can one be "bobulated"?  And then there's flammable and inflammable...

      Evolution: Fact everywhere else, but only a theory in the Republican gene pool. (-8.00/-7.23)

      by slynch on Wed Feb 20, 2008 at 11:09:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I can answer that (0+ / 0-)

      Clinton introduced 13 of those and 4 passed.
      Obama introduced 6 and two passed.

      Obama had a number of GOP co-sponsors on his, like Lugar and even Coburn on one. Hillary's GOP co-sponsors were almost always either Snowe or Collins, and these were on women's health type bills. At least that was my impression. But then I was not systematically looking at this aspect.

      But it's easy to look up yourself at thomas.loc.gov

      God is busy somewhere else and left Chad Vader in charge of earth.

      by Grassroots Mom on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 04:58:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  out of curiosity, was (0+ / 0-)

        that in 2006 or 2007--it seemed like your diary was for the previous year, or have I already forgotten?

        I'm hoping to do a more detailed diary tomorrow on this, if I have time.  I'd like to really look at all the cosponsors and come up with a metric for "progressiveness" and "depth" of each bill.  Of course, those are fairly subjective measures, but I really don't think I'll be biased one way or the other (except on issues, I guess--I'm most interested in health issues; that's my academic research specialty)

        Evolution: Fact everywhere else, but only a theory in the Republican gene pool. (-8.00/-7.23)

        by slynch on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 10:07:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Suggestions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barath

    I don't think sheer numbers of bills is a good metric. For example, the Civil Rights Act and the bill that designated Arbor Day would be given the same weight by this methodology.

    Also, if going with quantitative analysis, I think delving into the number of sponsored bills passed into law would be a better measure of divisiveness. Divisiveness would show itself more in dealing with the opposing party than with your own side of the aisle.

    •  good points (0+ / 0-)

      that require more time than I had tonight.  But, I'll look at this more Friday.

      rather than passage, it might be comparable to look at party of cosponsors (upthread)

      Evolution: Fact everywhere else, but only a theory in the Republican gene pool. (-8.00/-7.23)

      by slynch on Wed Feb 20, 2008 at 11:35:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Undercount. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slynch

    It's going to be hard, honestly, for you to simply use the database to figure it out.

    For example, the Coburn-Obama transparency bill was fully co-written and co-sponsored, but each bill can only have one original sponsor so Coburn was the "sponsor".  And there are other co-sponsors tacked on, including McCain, but the bill was only written and pushed through by Coburn and Obama.

    •  well, there must be some way to compare (0+ / 0-)

      or else all the hoopla about who has more experience is just spitting in the wind. (at least that's my view).

      but you're right--it certainly isn't easy.

      Evolution: Fact everywhere else, but only a theory in the Republican gene pool. (-8.00/-7.23)

      by slynch on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 10:10:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here' what I think of experience matters argument (0+ / 0-)

    I hate to quote something from George Will, but since its mostly just facts I'll consider it safe to do.

    The president who came to office with the most glittering array of experiences had served 10 years in the House of Representatives, then became minister to Russia, then served 10 years in the Senate, then four years as secretary of state (during a war that enlarged the nation by 33 percent), then was minister to Britain. Then, in 1856, James Buchanan was elected president and in just one term secured a strong claim to being ranked as America's worst president. Abraham Lincoln, the inexperienced former one-term congressman, had an easy act to follow.

    Clinton supporters are more virtuous than the rest of us. They have twice as many virtues because they hold both standards.

    by KingGeorgetheTurd on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 04:09:37 AM PST

  •  AFAIK Obama has more bills (0+ / 0-)

    that passed, and more bills with Republican co-sponsorship. One of the reasons I like him so much.

    (-7.75, -7.08) On empty rings around the sun all sing the same: our dream has come.

    by a synthetic cubist on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 04:50:21 AM PST

    •  but another dimension to this that (0+ / 0-)

      I haven't considered and am thinking about (as should we all), is, if he's got more republican cosponsors, is the progressiveness of his bills 'watered down?'  I don't know, I'm just askin.  My concern about both candidates is that they aren't as progressive as I'd like.

      Evolution: Fact everywhere else, but only a theory in the Republican gene pool. (-8.00/-7.23)

      by slynch on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 10:09:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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