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Getting to know 100 senators

The Sunlight Foundation’s 100 Senators tool has a simple mission: to allow you to discover not just what senators do (or don’t do, as the case may be) but who they are.

You can determine how many members are millionaires (61 percent), for example, or how many claim to be atheists (zero), or the correlation between senators’ prior careers and their religion (five out of seven Mormon senators were lawyers, compared to three out of 10 Jewish senators). “We tend to think of the Senate or Congress as this sort of ‘it.’ Something we miss is the fact that Congress is really a ‘they,’‚ÄČ” says Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at the foundation. “There are people of different backgrounds, men and women, people with previous lives, and that affects how they view the world and how they legislate.”

Two buttons control how you sift through information. The first, “Group By,” breaks members down by criteria such as region, profession, or age. The second, “Color By,” fills in the subset with another variable. Let’s say you want to group senators by region; you can color those breakdowns by net worth, gender, or highest degree earned. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, click “Random.”

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Christie Chisholm is a CJR senior editor. Follow her on Twitter at @c_chisholm.