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Announcing Battle Royale - May the Best Bill Win

December 11, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The most popular bill of the 110th Congress is the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2008, which makes sense given the recent reports that the U.S. economy has lost 1.9 million jobs in the past year. The bill has the most “aye” votes from OpenCongress users, the most comments, and the most people tracking it with their “My OpenCongress” accounts.

The least popular bill is the Global Poverty Act of 2007, one of President-elect Barack Obama’s key pieces of legislation in the Senate. That bill has been voted against on OpenCongress more than twice as many times as the next-most-opposed bill.

Last January, we expanded OpenCongress by launching “My OpenCongress,” a customizable tracking tool and social network that lets people track, vote and comment on every bill, senator and representative in the U.S. Congress. That meant that for the first time ever information was being generated that could show, in a measurable way, the public’s opinion on everything in Congress. Today, we’re launching a new tool that stacks up all of that data and lets you dive in and promote the things you care about:

Battle Royale! >>

To get started, use the drop-down menu to select a topic (e.g., bills) and a timeframe (e.g., past 30 days). Then click any column name (e.g., Votes) to sort by highest or lowest level of user activity. To get your votes in the mix and boost or bury the things you care about, login or create a “My OpenCongress” account, it’s free and easy.

The Battle Royale also gives you a bird’s eye view for researching the public’s opinion of all the parts of Congress. For example here are the top ten most supported and most opposed bills of the past 30 days on OpenCongress according to the Battle Royale:

    Most Supported Bills

  1. H.R.6867 – Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2008
  2. H.R.2755 – Federal Reserve Board Abolition Act
  3. H.R.5843 Act to Remove Federal Penalties for the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults
  4. S.2433 Global Poverty Act of 2007
  5. S.3111 Life at Conception Act
  6. S.3507 Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2008
  7. S.2544 Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2008
  8. H.Res.1531 Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the President of the United States should not issue pardons to senior members of his administration during the final 90 days of his term of office.
  9. H.R.73 Citizens’ Self-Defense Act of 2007
  10. S.185 Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007

    Most Opposed Bills

  1. S.2433 Global Poverty Act of 2007
  2. H.R.6257 Assault Weapons Ban Reauthorization Act of 2008
  3. H.R.6867 Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2008
  4. H.R.1424 Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
  5. H.R.7297 Emergency Automobile Industry American Jobs Protection Act of 2008
  6. S.1959 Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007
  7. H.R.1955 Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007
  8. H.Res.1258 Impeaching George W. Bush, President of the United States, of high crimes and misdemeanors
  9. H.R.800 Employee Free Choice Act of 2007
  10. H.R.1022 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008

You can also use it to compare the ratings of every member of Congress. For example, you’ll find in the Battle Royale that, according to OpenCongress users, the most popular Senator is Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold, and that, consistent with the election results, Barack Obama outscores John McCain, 57 percent to 40 percent.

On the House side, the highest approval ratings belong to two Representatives who are renowned for their individuality and personal convictions. Libertarian-leaning former presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX) shines above all the rest with a 90 percent approval rating after 136 votes from OpenCongress users. And former Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) comes in second with a 78 percent approval rating after 47 votes.

Another stand-out statistic from the House is the Speaker’s shockingly bad rating. After 40 user votes, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has only an 11 percent approval rating, which is about the same as the percent of voters that gave Congress a good or excellent job approval rating overall in the latest Rasmussen poll. Pelosi’s leadership position makes her a symbol for the 110th Congress, so it’s not surprising to see her personal rating reflect the country’s opinion of Congress in general. And in case you’re curious, the Republican Leader in the House, John Boehner (R-OH) has an 8 percent approval rating.

Along with bills, senators and representatives, the Battle Royale gives us a snapshot of the broader issue areas in Congress that people are most interested in following:

    Most-Tracked Issues

  1. Civil liberties
  2. Abortion
  3. Immigration
  4. Energy
  5. Education
  6. Internet
  7. Iraq
  8. Climate change
  9. Technology
  10. Environmental protection

We’re really excited to be releasing this tool right now as the 110th session of Congress winds down. Besides being an overview of the social data that has been generated about the 110th Congress, it’s also the tip of the iceberg of the kind of actionable infrastructure for congressional information that we’ll be building off of as we go into the 111th session. In January we’ll be adding new tools that will make it much easier to take information from OpenCongress and organize campaigns to influence the lawmaking process. For now, we hope you’ll jump into the Battle Royale and push the bills and issues you care about in Congress to the top of the list!

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Moderated Comment

lstevetaylor 12/13/2008 9:54am
You should link this to the American Thinker, this site is good and needed, like the new click word more transparency L.Steve Taylor from the country Texas
zane 12/11/2008 9:10am

Another thing, which you’re probably already aware of, is that listing the popular topics like this is a positive feedback loop. They’ll get more eyeballs, and so are likely to get more votes, and become even more popular. We need to accumulate votes and commentary on other less popular bills (preferably in a random way), which may simply be unpopular because people aren’t aware of them.

zane 12/11/2008 9:07am

Given the enormous dispersion in apparent interest in the bills on the site, it seems likely to me that this distribution is more due to which bills have had news coverage that linked directly to OpenCongress, and not due to the public’s (even the web 2.0 public’s) general levels of interest. How do we get to critical mass? (Yes, I know, Digg the page :)

Having become familiar now with IntenseDebate, after started using it, I think that having that kind of persistent owned commentary goes a long way toward incentivizing thoughtful input.
I immediately felt much more personally invested in my commentary, when I knew it wasn’t just going to vanish into the void. Now I expect it to be something I might be held accountable for across many sites, over a long period of time, and I want the quality of that commentary to reflect on my identity, and accumulate. I think it’d be great if OpenCongress would go that way…

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