Who Has the Most Power on Capitol Hill?

By
David Hawkings, Roll Call
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Gauging congressional clout is arguably an enterprise that falls somewhere between happy hour argument and inexact science. But it’s happening almost constantly on Capitol Hill. Roll Call has tried to help the conversation along for many years now by taking objective stock of every delegation’s potential sway in each of the past dozen Congresses.

The latest iteration of the Roll Call Clout Index is now complete, and the story of how power has shifted in the 113th Congress is clear: The states that anchor the Gulf Coast have much more stroke than ever before. Play this nifty interactive graphic to see why.

The behemoth California delegation readily emerges as, by far, the most powerful of them all — just as it did two years ago, a decade ago and when the index was first created in 1990.

But the three states with the next highest scores all have beaches along the Gulf of Mexico.

Texas, which has grown to have easily the second-largest delegation at the Capitol, maintains its perennial hold on one of the top three spots. But third-most-populous Florida has advanced from sixth place to second since 2011. And Louisiana, even after losing a House seat this year because of post-Hurricane Katrina population losses, has not only broken into the top 10 for the first time but has surged all the way to No. 4.

Beyond that, the analysis found the two other states along the Gulf punching well above their weight. The delegation from Mississippi, at 31st in population, nonetheless got the 15th highest clout score, barely edging 23rd-most-populous Alabama.

Taken together, the numbers are a powerful signal that the region is better positioned than ever before to get what it wants out of Congress the next time a natural disaster strikes. Its lawmakers will have an easier time triumphing over the budget-cutting conservative sentiments in the House that so famously slowed the delivery of the Superstorm Sandy federal relief package to the Northeast for a dozen weeks.

(That said, the New York delegation maintained its constant hold on a spot in the top five, and New Jersey re-entered the top 10 after a long absence.)

(for more, please visit our partners at Roll Call)

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