This week, the U.S. House voted to endorse an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
Not surprisingly, the vote was nearly unanimously along party lines.
All 194 Republicans voted NO and 232 out of 234 Democrats voted YES.
I decided to try and calculate the probability of such a vote happening if every Representative voted the way they normally do. I assumed that both Republicans and Democrats vote along party lines 99% of the time (that seems quite high, and if it’s true, that’s quite sad; but I wanted to err on the side of caution).
I then assumed that the way Representatives vote is a binomial distribution, which basically means it has two outcomes, like a coin toss. In this case, the two outcomes are a YES vote or a NO vote.
So my first calculation was essentially asking: what is the probability of all 194 Republicans voting NO, assuming they would each independently do so 99% of the time. Plugging the numbers into my calculator, I get a probability of 14%. (If I were to assume that they vote along party lines just 95% of the time, the probability of this outcome is .005%, or 1 out of 20,000.)
My second calculation was asking for the probability of 232 Democrats voting YES and 2 voting NO, assuming they would all vote YES 99% of the time. In this case, the probability is about 26%.
(By the way, anyone who is more skilled at Statistics is more than welcome to correct my numbers.)
In both cases, the numbers tell us that the odds of getting the vote that actually took place were relatively low, yet that is what happened.
This suggests that these Representatives are not thinking for themselves at all, but just blindly voting along party lines.
I would much rather have a person in Congress who thinks for him or herself, even if they placed a vote that I did not agree with (ideally, the reps would vote in a way that I support, but that is not the issue here.)
If the Reps are just going to vote along party lines all the time, then what’s the point of even having a vote?
So all I ask, Dear Congress, is that the next time there is a vote, do some research on the topic at hand, decide what is best for the country, and then place your vote.
I would think this would lead to more bipartisanship, and having decisions made that we would all be more likely to favor and support.
*image from Think for Yourself