Topics have been settled, I’ve figured out the best times to exercise, I’m officially in love with the West Campus House System, today’s chilly 60 degree weather is near perfect, and I have no prelims until the first week of October (which is my birthday, but whatever.) As usual, I have nothing to complain about.

Despite all the drama that went into finalizing topics, I’m pretty psyched about my papers. My Stats paper will study the members of the 110th Congress. I’m interested in the factors that determine a successful a reelection campaign, namely, if voting record really has anything to do with it.  I’ll be studying margin of victory in most recent reelection as a function of time in office, voting record, campaign contributions, public funds earmarked for their home state, committee leadership positions, and possibly age. (I’m mainly curious about my hero, the 90-year-old Senator Robert C. Byrd, and all of the opponents he has trounced over the 49 years he has been in office. Any former Senate Page can tell you that he absolutely made our experiences in Congress.)

On a completely different note, I am spending my semester in Labor Economics studying salaries of Congressional staff members and how they relate to graduate degrees obtained, or, Will an MPP Help Me Make More Money if I Work on the Hill? The legwork is going to be really, really painstaking, as Congress doesn’t like to digitize anything, but I’m excited about the prospect of covering something that isn’t studied very often. I’m also vainly hoping it tells me what to do after I graduate from ILR. It could happen.

I love how this has clearly become a semester about Congress when none of my classes are technically about it. That’s part of the joy of being ILR: training that seems specific but has applications all over the social sciences, humanities, and even natural sciences. I’m pretty sure my friends will kill me if I say “multidisciplinary approach” one more time, but this semester is a fine example.

… but we’ll see how thrilled I am when it comes time to hand something in.

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