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Voting patterns in the Utah legislature

The Utah legislature employs committees to weed out (or heavily amend) most "bad" bills before they reach the floor of the Utah House or Senate. Because bills don't generally make it to the floor without committee approval, bills don't generally come to a floor vote unless they have achieved some measure of consensus. As a result, party-line votes and "no" votes are surprisingly rare in the Utah legislature.

Frequency of party-line votes

A "party-line vote" occurs when a majority of Republicans vote one way and a majority of Democrats vote the other way. If the majority of Republicans votes with the majority of Democrats, then it is not a party-line vote. The numbers below suggest that the Utah Senate is generally less partisan than the Utah House, but neither sees many party-line votes.

Year Utah House Utah Senate
2007 13% 6%
2008 9% 6%
2009 13% 7%
2010 12% 7%
2011 16% 8%
2012 14% 7%
2013 12% 6%
2014 10% 5%
2015 13% 7%
2016 14% 6%

Average size of the voting majority

The "size of the voting majority" is the percent of legislators voting on the winning side in a vote. If 20 Senators vote "no" and 9 vote "yes," then 69% were in the voting majority. It does not matter whether the majority voted "yes" or "no" for these calculations.

Year Utah House Utah Senate
2007 93% 96%
2008 94% 96%
2009 92% 96%
2010 93% 95%
2011 92% 96%
2012 92% 95%
2013 93% 96%
2014 93% 96%
2015 92% 95%
2016 93% 96%

Frequency of near-unanimous votes

Many votes pass the Utah legislature by overwhelmingly large margins, with Republicans and Democrats coming to consensus on a bill. Here, I present the percentage of votes where at least 90% of those voting were on the same side.

Year Utah House Utah Senate
2007 77% 85%
2008 79% 85%
2009 76% 85%
2010 76% 84%
2011 70% 86%
2012 75% 83%
2013 76% 87%
2014 77% 88%
2015 75% 82%
2016 76% 86%

Frequency of negative votes

It's rare for a vote to fail on the floor of the Utah House or Senate. Shown here is the percentage of votes each year that did not pass.

Year Utah House Utah Senate
2007 3% 1%
2008 3% 1%
2009 4% 1%
2010 2% 2%
2011 2% 1%
2012 2% 2%
2013 4% 1%
2014 3% 1%
2015 4% 1%
2016 3% 1%

Average absentee rate

Legislators rarely leave the capitol during the session, but they frequently leave the floor for a few minutes at a time, which may cause them to miss a vote. Here, I show the average absentee rate (that is, the percent of legislators missing any given vote) by year.

Year Utah House Utah Senate
2007 8% 9%
2008 8% 10%
2009 6% 11%
2010 7% 12%
2011 7% 14%
2012 6% 10%
2013 6% 11%
2014 6% 12%
2015 6% 12%
2016 6% 14%