Fun with Congressional Data: The myth of Independent Representation and choices in 2016

This is the fourth installment in the “Fun with Congressional Data” series and as I said in the first installment, I’m going to take a look at the tiny proportion of independents in this country today. You can check out my other posts with the links below:

  1. Party Majority after election in the House/Senate since 1931 and a congressional majority’s connection to changes in Real/Nominal GDP.
  2. Occupation status of congress since 1953.
  3. Percentages of Congress and House/Senate of Democrats and Republicans since 1857.
  4. This post: The myth of independent representation and choices in 2016.
  5. Amount of $$ spent on elections by Incumbents vs. Challengers and it’s effect on re-election since 1974.

The data comes from here. So let’s start with the mythical independent politician. Check out the percent of the elected congress since 1857 who described themselves as independent (not D/R).


As you can see, the idea that the two party system is a recent phenomenon is a myth. Since 1857, there were only two periods where independents made up over 5% of congress. The first was predating and during the civil war  with the 35th and 36th congresses containing several American party members who wanted to limit immigration and the  37th congress which contained 24 members of the unionist party at the start of the session (among several lesser parties). This was the highest proportion of elected independents in the history of the U.S., topping out at 14.87  % of congress. Even in this time, the Democrats and Republicans held control and would continue to this day.

The second period in which independents achieved above a 5% of congress was the 55th and 56th congresses which elected many populists  and several members of the Silver Party (which supported using silver in conjunction with Gold to back the dollar). Both of these movements were short lived and dissipated from the political landscape in the early 1900’s. The last hurrah for the independent party, it appears, was in the late 1930’s featuring the progressive and farmer-labor parties but these parties failed to break the 5% barrier. Let’s take a look at the house/senate breakdown of independents below to get a better feel for these trends.

We see that the Silver and Populist parties made a bigger dent in the senate in the late 1800’s (but there are less members of the senate). Aside from this time and the civil war era, Senate independents have not owned over a 5% majority. The only time that house independents crossed this threshold was during the pre-civil war period.

So what can we do to break this 2 party stranglehold on America?

Go vote for independents (but please check their record and views) in your congressional midterm elections!

Here’s a list of independents running in each state (all from balletopedia), you should check them out!


  1. Cean Stevens   – Senate
  2. Margaret Stock  -Senate
  3. Jim McDermott (Alaska) – House
  4. Jon Briggs Watts -House


  1. Joe Cobb – House



  1. Arn Menconi -Senate
  2. Lily Williams -Senate
  3. Cliff Willmeng-House
  4. Martin Buchanan-House
  5. Mike McRedmond-House
  6. Robert Lee Worthey-House


  1. Scott Gesty -House


  1. Carla Spalding-House
  2. Donald Endriss-House
  3. Elizabeth Schrey-House
  4. Gary Koniz-House
  5. Jose Peixoto-House
  6. Marilyn Holloman-House
  7. Michael Steinberg-House
  8. Michael Trout-House
  9. Rob Lapham-House
  10. Timothy Rossano-House


  1. Allen Buckley -Senate


  1. Alan Yim-House
  2. Calvin Griffin-House
  3. Richard Turner (Hawaii)-House


  1. Pro-Life (Marvin Thomas Richardson)-House
  2. Ray Writz-House


  1. Chad Koppie-Senate
  2. Kenton McMillen-Senate
  3. Scott Summers-Senate
  4. David Earl Williams III-House
  5. David Gill-House
  6. Paula Bradshaw-House
  7. Tabitha Carson-House


  1. Drew Thompson-House
  2. Pepper Snyder-House
  3. Russell Brooksbank-House
  4. Steven Mayoras-House


  1. Robert Garrard -Senate
  2. Alan LaPolice -House
  3. Gordon Bakken -House
  4. James Houston Bales -House
  5. Kerry Burt (Kansas) -House
  6. Miranda Allen -House
  7. Steve Hohe -House


  1. Kenny Scelfo-House
  2. Mark Halverson-House


  1. George Gluck-House
  2. Kamesha Clark-House
  3. Mark Shell-House
  4. Scott Soffen-House


  1. Chris Cataldo-House
  2. Thomas Simmons-House


  1. Diane Bostow-House
  2. Erwin J. Haas-House
  3. Gregory Creswell-House
  4. Jeff Wood (Michigan)-House
  5. Jonathan Ray Osment-House
  6. Ken Proctor-House
  7. Leonard Schwartz-House
  8. Lisa Lane Gioia-House
  9. Lorence Wenke-House
  10. Matthew Orlando-House
  11. Steve Sluka-House
  12. Tiffany Hayden-House
  13. Tom Bagwell (Michigan)-House


  1. Dennis Schuller-House


  1. Johnny McLeod-House
  2. Roger Gerrard-House
  3. Shawn O’Hara-House
  4. Troy Ray-House


  1. Benjamin Brixey-House
  2. Doanita Simmons-House
  3. Jim Higgins-House
  4. Mark Bliss (Missouri)-House
  5. Robb Cunningham-House
  6. Roy Welborn-House
  7. Russ Monchil-House


  1. Mike Fellows (Montana)-House


  1. Andy Shambaugh-House
  2. Brad Ashford-House


  1. David Goossen-House
  2. John Everhart-House
  3. Kamau Bakari-House
  4. Louis Baker-House
  5. Mike Little (Nevada)-House
  6. Reuben D’Silva-House
  7. Steve Brown (Nevada)-House
  8. Steven St John-House
  9. Warren Markowitz-House

New York:

  1. Alan Bellone-House
  2. Daniel Cavanagh-House
  3. Daniel G. Castricone-House
  4. Daniel Vila Rivera-House
  5. Eduardo Ramirez-House
  6. Frank Francois-House
  7. Henry Bardel-House
  8. Kenneth Schaeffer-House
  9. Martin Babinec-House
  10. Matt Funiciello-House
  11. Mimi Satter-House
  12. Scott Smith (New York)-House
  13. Tony D’Orazio-House
  14.  [Scott Smith]

North Carolina:

  1. Sean Haugh-Senate
  2. C.L. Cooke -House
  3. J. J. Summerell -House

North Dakota:

  1. Jack Seaman-House


  1. Dan Phillip-House
  2. Dennis Lambert-House
  3. Jim Berns-House
  4. Noel J. Nazario-House
  5. Thomas McMasters (Ohio U.S. House)-House


  1. Dax Ewbank-Senate
  2. Mark Beard-Senate
  3. Robert Murphy (Oklahoma)-Senate
  4. Sean Braddy-Senate
  5. David Matthew Hullum-House
  6. John McCarthy (Oklahoma)-House
  7. Sevier White-House
  8. Zachary Knight-House


  1. Marvin Sandnes-Senate
  2. Steven Cody Reynolds-Senate
  3. David Walker (Oregon)-House
  4. Peter DeFazio-House
  5. Suzanne Bonamici-House


  1. Julian Subick-House
  2. Steve Sheetz-House

South Carolina:

  1. Bill Bledsoe-Senate
  2. Jim Hinkle-Senate
  3. Rebel Scarborough-Senate
  4. Albert Travison-House
  5. Dimitri Cherny-House
  6. Eddie McCain-House
  7. Larry Gaither-House
  8. Michael Chandler (South Carolina)-House
  9. Michael Grier Jr.-House
  10. Prince Charles Mallory-House
  11. Rick Piotrowski-House
  12. Rudy Barnes Jr.-House


  1. Adrian Montague-House
  2. Cassandra Mitchell-House
  3. David Ross-House
  4. James Hart-House
  5. Karen Free Spirit Talley-Lane-House
  6. Lenny Ladner-House
  7. Mark Rawles-House
  8. Paul Cook (Tennessee)-House
  9. Rick Tyler-House
  10. Robert Franklin-House
  11. Shelia Godwin-House
  12. Topher Kersting-House
  13. Travis Page-House


  1. Antonio Diaz-House
  2. Bill Kelsey-House
  3. Calvin DeWeese-House
  4. Clark Patterson-House
  5. Cody Wommack-House
  6. Darrel Smith Jr.-House
  7. Ed Colliver-House
  8. Ed Rankin-House
  9. Gary Stuard-House
  10. George Reiter-House
  11. Hal Ridley Jr. -House
  12. Jaime Perez -House
  13. James Partsch-Galvan -House
  14. Jarrett Woods -House
  15. Jeffrey Blunt -House
  16. Joshua Darr -House
  17. Ken Ashby -House
  18. Kevin McCormick ( Texas) -House
  19. Loren Marc Schneiderman -House
  20. Mark Boler -House
  21. Mark Lawson (Texas) -House
  22. Mark Loewe -House
  23. Mary Gourdoux -House
  24. Michael Cary -House
  25. Mike Kolls -House
  26. N. Ruben Perez -House
  27. Nicholas Landholt -House
  28. Paul Blair (Texas) -House
  29. Phil Gray -House
  30. Rhett Rosenquest Smith -House
  31. Ross Lynn Leone -House
  32. Roy Carl Stanley -House
  33. Ruben Corvalan -House
  34. Rusty Tomlinson -House
  35. Scott Ballard -House
  36. Scott Jameson -House
  37. Scott Trimble -House
  38. Thom Prentice -House
  39. Thomas Kleven -House
  40. Troy Bonar -House
  41. Vanessa Tijerina -House


  1. Chadwick Fairbanks III -House
  2. Collin Simonsen -House
  3. Craig Bowden -House
  4. Paul McCollaum Jr. -House


  1. Andy Craig (Wisconsin)-House
  2. Jason Lebeck-House
  3. Jeff Dahlke-House
  4. John Arndt-House
  5. John Eleniewski-House
  6. Ken Driessen-House
  7. Robbie Hoffman-House
  8. Robert Burke-House
  9. Robert Raymond-House
  10. Spencer Zimmerman-House
  11. Wendy Gribben-House


  1. Daniel Clyde Cummings -House
  2. Lawrence Gerard Struempf -House


So those are a ton of options to change the graphs we see above. DISCLAIMER: I DID NOT LOOK THROUGH ALL THE CANDIDATES STANCES! SO DON’T VOTE BLINDLY, CHECK THE ONES OUT IN YOUR STATE. (After all, I do this for fun, I have a real job so I don’t have time to sift through everything.)

If you enjoyed this post, check out some of the other “Fun with Congressional Data” Posts:

  1. Party Majority after election in the House/Senate since 1931 and a congressional majority’s connection to changes in Real/Nominal GDP.
  2. Occupation status of congress since 1953.
  3. Percentages of Congress and House/Senate of Democrats and Republicans since 1857.
  4. This post: The myth of independent representation and choices in 2016.
  5. Amount of $$ spent on elections by Incumbents vs. Challengers and it’s effect on re-election since 1974.

If you enjoyed this post, take a look at some of my other Adventures in Statistics.

-Andrew G. Chapple



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