Predicting the Vote Using Legislative Speech

Aditya Budhwar, Alex Dekhtyar and Foaad Khosmood
Proceedings of the 19th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research: Governance in the Data Age
Delft, Netherlands

As most dedicated observers of voting bodies like the U.S. Supreme Court can attest, it is possible to guess vote outcomes based on statements made during deliberations or questioning by the voting members. We show this is also possible to do automatically using machine learning, potentially providing a powerful tool to ordinary citizens. Our working hypothesis is that verbal utterances made during the legislative process by elected representatives can indicate their intent on a future vote, and therefore can be used to automatically predict said vote to a significant degree.