US Senate is the venue of political debates where the federal bills are formed and voted. Senators show their support/opposition along the bills with their votes. This information makes it possible to extract the polarity of the senators. Similarly, blogosphere plays an increasingly important role as a forum for public debate. Authors display sentiment toward issues, organizations or people using a natural language.
In this research, given a mixed set of senators/blogs debating on a set of political issues from opposing camps, I use signed bipartite graphs for modeling debates, and I propose an algorithm for partitioning both the opinion holders (senators or blogs) and the issues (bills or topics) comprising the debate into binary opposing camps. Simultaneously, my algorithm scales the entities on a univariate scale. Using this scale, a researcher can identify moderate and extreme senators/blogs within each camp, and polarizing versus unifying issues. Through performance evaluations I show that my proposed algorithm provides an effective solution to the problem, and performs much better than existing baseline algorithms adapted to solve this new problem. In my experiments, I used both real data from political blogosphere and US Congress records, as well as synthetic data which were obtained by varying polarization and degree distribution of the vertices of the graph to show the robustness of my algorithm.
I also applied my algorithm on all the terms of the US Senate to the date for longitudinal analysis and developed a web based interactive user interface www.PartisanScale.com to visualize the analysis.
US politics is most often polarized with respect to the left/right alignment of the entities. However, certain issues do not reflect the polarization due to political parties, but observe a split correlating to the demographics of the senators, or simply receive consensus. I propose a hierarchical clustering algorithm that identifies groups of bills that share the same polarization characteristics. I developed a web based interactive user interface www.ControversyAnalysis.com to visualize the clusters while providing a synopsis through distribution charts, word clouds, and heat maps.
- Controversy analysis: clustering and ranking polarized networks with visualizations