Archive for October, 2010

A Word Cloud of Congressional Bios

October 28, 2010

The United States Congress has 541 members and delegates but what do they put in their short bios? With the help of Wordle and a little editing of states, cities, and small words, we found some interesting things. Click on the thumbnail below to get a better view.

Wordle: Congressional Bios

The top words are about academics: most went on to college (e.g. University, College, High School, graduated, Harvard, B.S., J.D.). Political achievement is also well-represented with many reporting that they had been elected and reelected to various offices (e.g. governor, mayor, assembly, state, board).

But what struck me was the large presence of the word county. At first, I thought this was simply the location of where the district is located, and in many cases it was. However, there were just as many members of Congress who got their start in county politics. In 2010, many high-profile candidates are running big without much experience. The bios show that many of the current members are pros who started in the minors at home in their county government.

Another neat tidbit was a smaller word in the cloud: unsuccessful. Most often, the word was used in conjunction with losing an election. While the word cloud does not lie, in this case the word count is better. The word unsuccessful was listed 117 times. Some failed multiple times before moving to Capitol Hill but most list only one election they lost: usually the office they now hold. Despite how successful you are, you never forget the losses.

Now, let’s turn it over to you: what do you see in the cloud? What do you think it says about Congress? Do you think this will change after November 2nd? What would you like us to include in the bios for the 112th Congress?