Swarming the AHCA: AI vs the Vote-A-Rama in the Senate


Donald Trump has been front and center on the political stage for years now. But, as his presidency approaches the six month mark, Trump has yielded the spotlight to party leaders like Mitch McConnell as they seek to replace the Affordable Care Act. Trump campaigned on a promise to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, but has largely turned over the nuts and bolts of the proposed American Health Care Act to a group of 13 men working behind closed doors.

Now that the American Healthcare Act has been made public, we can expect a healthy debate in public and on the Senate floor about how it was conceived, how it will affect the American public, and how likely it is to be made law. With that in mind, researchers at Unanimous AI convened a group of American voters to forecast the answers to those tough questions. The swarm was asked to combined their wisdom, experience, insight and intuition to generate what we call Swarm Insight.

After a very public Rose Garden declaration of victory when the bill first passed the Senate, much has been made of the secrecy with which the next version of AHCA was written. After criticizing Democrats for working “in secret” to pass the ACA in 2010, Mitch McConnell has faced similar ire from both sides for the unorthodox decision work on the bill largely in private ahead of its release on Thursday. So, researchers at Unanimous asked the Swarm AI to shed light on the real GOP motivations for that decision.


Recently, Trump has accused the Democrats of blocking his appointments and proposals, noting that “obstruction doesn’t work” after Republicans won two special elections earlier this week. And, if you look at the replay above, and the Faction Analysis chart below, it’s clear that the debate here for the Swarm AI, especially in the beginning, was between “Democratic sabotage” and “fear of public backlash.” But, as the swarm negotiated, it’s very quickly revealed that the answer that best satisfies the group is “fear of public backlash.”

The American Healthcare Act is largely seen as a blow to Obama’s legacy and a repudiation of Obamacare. Not surprisingly, Obama released a critical statement calling the GOP bill, “a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America.” At the same time, of course, Mitch McConnell believes that his plan shares Obama’s goals but could improve upon them. But how would a swarm of American voters interpret the newly revealed bill?

That perception of the AHCA as a tax cut bill makes passing it an uphill battle, even with a Republican majority. Already, at least 4 GOP Senators have expressed opposition to the AHCA for one reason or another, and Democrats only need 2 detractors to defeat the bill. But, while Trump is confident that those “four friends of mine [will] probably get there“, the Swarm AI is less convinced that the Republicans have this battle won.


A lot of the debate over Healthcare has focused on the potential fallout for the 2018 midterm elections. And, naturally researchers at Unanimous asked the Swarm AI to forecast the impact on the Republicans if the bill passes as written. But, I’ll leave you a different thought.

Mitch McConnell dismisses criticism of this process as secretive, noting that there have been a “gazillion hearings” on the topic in the Senate over the past seven years, but very little progress has been made. Further, if the Senate is truly deadlocked, a rare process known as the “vote-a-rama” will stretch into the night, with the two sides voting rapid-fire on an unlimited set of amendments in the hope of somehow stumbling into consensus.

Unlike the Senate, Swarm Intelligence produces answers in minutes, not years. That happens because swarming encourages its participants to seek out the answers that best satisfies the group, and the process is less contentious and more collaborative than we typically see from the Senate. And, since Swarm Intelligence evolved to help simple organisms solve complicated problems, and this technology could be easily applied to the government, why not replace the vote-a-rama with the swarm?

Every week Unanimous A. I. brings together swarms of regular people just like you to help us predict sporting events, investment opportunities, and technology as well as provide insight into everything from pop culture to politics. If you’d like information on joining a swarm – or just want to stay up to date on the latest predictions – click the button below.