Polarization is often discussed more in relation to gridlock in Washington D.C., while at the same time there is compelling evidence of party polarization happening at the state level. Given a willingness to compromise usually isn’t a prerequisite to pass legislation as the majority in an elected body, polarization might just be the default state of democracy.

This sharp division between factions can be characterized by an unwillingness to compromise across party lines, and an overall stubbornness in policymaking. Whether these shifts are the result of national interests taking a stronger position locally, the culmination of political unrest globally, or a complex combination of external and internal factors, the bottom line—the term “moderate” really doesn’t mean what it used to.

So, what does the data have to say about this? The data backs it up. Taking it a step further, analyzing around 1,000 roll call votes from the 65th Montana Senate, here’s a look at what polarization and legislator vote similarity looks like. This result includes 50 nodes, with 2,500 connections.

Each node represents a legislator, color coded by party affiliation. The distance between each node is calculated based upon how often the two nodes in question vote the same way. Upon hovering on a particular node, the legislator name is displayed. It’s worth noting polarization in and of itself doesn’t lead to gridlock, moreover, the majority party simply dominates the legislative agenda.

When operating in today’s shifting political landscape it is of utmost importance to combine available data, with tools to efficiently understand and create actionable intelligence to help build better relationships with government systems. The business case for a legislative affairs management platform is becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity. For any questions, comments, or to learn more about how Statehill tools and data can add value to your legislative operation, get in touch at kjb@statehill.com.