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Strongly Connected Components in Congress

With the congressional election season ending yesterday, we have seen a lot of change in this country’s political affiliations, especially by state. Voters in a majority of the states holding congressional elections yesterday voted for GOP leaders, lending to a newly Republican Senate. This is vastly different from a liberal political landscape a few years ago, allowing President Barack Obama to pass key legislation, such as the Affordable Care Act, that would not have been passed had there been a Republican majority in both the Senate and the House. One of the interesting things to note about the changing political atmosphere are the changing alliances within the Senate and the House. These sometimes fluid alliances can make or break a candidate’s ability to hold office for another term. This is shown as more alliances with other congressman means more reputability and more backing, financially and relationally, lending to a more attractive platform for voters.

One way these alliances can be represented, however, is through strongly connected components in a sometimes directed network. A directed network, as discussed in class is when one node points to another node, but doesn’t necessarily point back to that beginning node. When looking at congressional alliances, it makes sense that when one congressman backs another, that congressman will also back the first. However, this is not always true. If congressman A backs congressman B in order to gain something from congressman B, then congressman B does not have to back congressman A if A doesn’t have anything that B can profit from. This nature of politicking in congress allows for a directed network.

This is shown in New York elections. Although this article by TCW News in Albany was written before the elections occurred, it still shows how alliances contribute to a directed network and strongly connected components. This article talks about how state senate majority leader Dean Skelos, who is Republican, is backing Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo. However Cuomo is not backing Skelos and the other Republicans, but is looking for a full Democrat takeover post-election. This represents the directed network nature of political alliances. As for strongly connected components, this article talks about how the democratic voter base is very connected with Cuomo and other Democratic senators in New York, forming its own strongly connected component of the network. Similarly, the Republicans have formed its owns strongly connected network between the voter base and the politicians. The link between the two components is formed between Skalos and Cuomo. There is also an offshoot Republican strongly connected component of voters who connect with Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, who opposes Skalos because of his support of Cuomo.



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November 2014