It’s the first day of business for the newly sworn-in 116th Congress, and House Democrats have already held several votes — on a bill to fund the government and a package of rule changes to House procedures. Both passed, but not without some intraparty tension. As the freshly minted majority party in the House, Democrats must wrestle with the question of how they will vote in this era of divided government. Will they vote together against President Trump’s agenda, or will tensions arise between the more progressive and centrist factions of the party, splintering the Democrats’ newfound power?
Time will tell. But with the 115th Congress now in the books, let’s take a step back and look to it for clues. Last session, House Republicans, then in the majority, were largely aligned with Trump — very few broke ranks.
Over the first two years of Trump’s presidency, the average GOP member overwhelmingly sided with Trump — 93 percent of the time in the House and 91 percent of the time in the Senate, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Trump score metric, which tracks how often each member of Congress votes with the president. Trump’s position isn’t clear on every vote, so this analysis covers only 96 votes in the House and 84 in the Senate. This is only a small subset of the more than 1,800 votes cast in Congress during the 115th session.1
Democrats largely voted against the president’s positions, but they weren’t quite as unified against Trump as Republicans were for him: In the House, the average Democratic member agreed with Trump 23 percent of the time; in the Senate, 31 percent of the time.
The voting behavior we saw