17.251, Introduction to Congressional Politics

This website is a supplement to the 17.251 Stellar site. Go to the Stellar site for class materials. Here, I catalogue some relevant resources for students of Congress.

Direct to Capitol Hill (more or less) Data and publications about congressional action

The MIT Libraries has a great web site that points to important sources for doing congressional research. The links often go to material that requires access through MIT, but other links are available directly to the public. I encourage MIT students to start here if they are doing research involving Congress.

The University of Michigan library also has a great resource page that points out sources for doing congressional research. There are a few resources here that aren't on the MIT site, especially under the "Evaluating the work of congress" tab. MIT students should start at the previous source, first, and then go to the Michigan page.

The Government Publishing Office is the go-to source for all federal government documents. The GPO link allows you to get to relevant GPO publications pretty easily. The one resources that is buried is direct access to committee documents, which is accessible here. (As a general matter, keep in mind that electronic versions of documents only go back to the 104th Congress [1995-96].)

GovTrack is a web site that serves us lots of information about congress, including information about members, votes, issues, and committees.

The Sunlight Congress API has a ton of bulk data and scripts, especially for people who want to build their own apps or websites.

CQ, or Congressional Quarterly, has been providing first-hand accounts of congressional activities since the late 1940s. Access to CQ resources is easily provided via the MIT Libraries link given above. Of particular usefulness is CQ Magazine, which is a weekly source covering goings-on in Congress.

The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, online version is the best source, by far, of biographical information about everyone who has ever served in Congress. My only complaint is that you can't really browse the directory. For that, you'll have to hunt down a paper version of the document, which is now available online.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is Congress's "think tank," producing a huge volume of very useful reports on topics ranging from specific policies to the legislative process. Beginning in 2018, CRS started posting its reports online, which you can access here. This site, at the University of Texas-Denton, was created before the CRS began posting its reports, and is still a great source.

Digitized and searchable fascimiles of early congressional documents is available at the Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation site. Totally cool! You can also search the House and Senate Journals up to the 42nd Congress (up to 1873), in addition to other documents.

C-SPAN to see live television from the floor of the House and Senate

Roll Call is the "home town newspaper" of Capitol Hill. Information ranging from straight news to hometown gossip. The Hill is an upstart competitor that's a little edgier, with a slight conservative tilt on the editorial page.

Campaign finance

The Federal Election Commission. regulates campaign finance for federal elections and is the primary source of election finance data.

The Campaign Finance Institute site is very useful, particularly in providing an on-line version of the campaign finance tables that are published in Vital Statistics on Congress.

The Center for Responsive Politics Open Secrets has a lot of information about individual MCs, particularly information about campaign finance.

CQ's Political Moneyline is a great news and data source concerning money in federal politics.

The Almanac of American Politics is a tremendous resource that gives detailed information about congressional districts, members of Congress, and local politics. This used to be my favorite reference book, until it started coming out later and later, and the profiles of the districts and members began shrinking in size and depth. Still, there's no competitor.

My own congressional data, including recent updates to my standing committee data.

Vital Statistics on Congress, now online, is a great resource that provides tons and tons of data about Congress, ranging from information about its members to committee statistics to workload information. (One of the co-authors, Raffaela Wakeman, took this class many years ago.

Voteview is the most useful website providing roll call and ideological scaling information for members of Congress. It is now at UCLA. Previously, it was developed by Keith Poole, and you can still visit his legacy Voteview website Keith Poolehere

The PIPC Roll Call Dataset is a dataset of congressional roll calls which codes the "vote type" of each vote. Very useful.

The Dirksen Center honors the memory of Sen. Everett M. Dirksen. It has grants and educational programs that are of some interest to the professional and student, alike.

Proquest: Congressional provides great access to the full text of congressional proceedings, reaching back at least 25 years. This provides direct access to most congressional documents. The link is available to MIT users only.

While it's not data -- it's software -- the PoliSim election simulator provides a pretty neat visualization of how spatial models of electoral competition work. (The page is now about 20 years old and written in Java 1.0. Please take the fellow up on his challenge to update it.)

The Legislative Studies Section of the American Political Science Association has its own home page, including the electronic version of its newsletter and other legislative links.

The Legislative Studies Quarterly is the official journal of the Legislative Studies Section. It's a highly-respected journal, and contains the most current research on legislatures of all types. You can access back issues through JSTOR. You must consult current issue the old fashioned way.

Elections and politics

Pollingreport.com has the most comprehensive set of reports about recent public opinion polls.

RealClearPolitics.com also has a good selection of polls, but focused on political candidates.

News sources

Here are some links to sources for news about Congress.


Direct to boot hill

The Political Graveyard is a fun excursion .