By Best in Moderation
So we’ve now seen what happens when you lean on an old system not updated in decades, and try to modernize it without changing the basis. Iowa was a complete disaster, and it has to do with our out-dated and out-moded election models in general.
There is the basic argument that we spend too much time campaigning, and the argument that either caucuses or primaries aren’t fair or standard, so we can’t really learn much from them. But today I want to focus on the third major problem: that how we elect people is not at all representative of the will of the people.
I’ll make one exception right out of the bat: the House of Representatives is almost perfectly in line with the population it represents. But even there, we have a problem with gerrymandered districts, so even a good population distribution can get swept away by administrative messing about.
Now for the main course:
We need to establish some figures before we go further, and that is population statistics and their corresponding connection to electoral items. So here’s a chart of the US population with some of those figures filled in:
|State||Population||Pop Electoral Vote||% USA Pop|
There is a serious issue with population spread and representation in both the Electoral College and the Senate.
25 US states come in at below 1.4% of the US population, with Kentucky as the most populous of the bunch at 1.35% and Wyoming at the bottom with 0.17%
25 states come at above 1.4%, with the lowest being Louisiana at 1.41% and the highest being California, with a whopping 11.96%.
This alone means that Wyoming has 70 times the voting power per person for Senate as California…
But it gets stranger:
Population wise, the top 25 states have five times the population of the lower 25, and has been that way consistently since at least 2010, with the population of the top 25 growing at a 25% faster rate and in absolute terms 6.5 times more.
For the electoral vote, you need 1.6 voters in the top 25 states to equal 1 voter in the lower 25. California gets it hardest, with 3.7 voters being required to balance 1 Wyoming voter.
The population of the top 25 states contains 82.75% of the US population. The population of the lowest 25 states contain 15.95% of the US population. (Territories and DC make up the remainder).
This means that 50% of the Senate is chosen by 16% of the population, and the candidate for president chosen by 37% of the population equals the one chosen by 63%, based on population needed per EC vote.
Direct impact is pretty clear: we do not remotely have a Representative Republic. Not only is half of our Legislative branch extremely tilted towards less populous states, the Executive is tilted strongly in their favor as well.
This means that issues that have strong national support can still easily be ignored if it does not matter to the lower population states. And it means that those who live in more populated states actually have far less representation in both Congress and the White House.
But also, the Senate is filled with a party who represents but a fraction of the population, yet retains the power to defy the will of the people even on issues where the people are 70, 80, or 90% for its opposite. This is a simple matter of math: if they only need to please 16% to stay in power, this is clearly a win for them, and it takes far more effort for the other party to satisfy 83%.
Below is a table of states and how they voted in the last presidential election.
|District of Columbia||282,830||90.48%||3||12,723||4.07%||–|
Trump won 16/25 of the least populous states, and 14/25 of the most populous states. The voting population of the lower 25 was 22 million (16.9%) with 120 electoral votes (22.6%) and the voting population of the upper 25 was 108.3 million (83.1%) with 411 electoral votes (77.4%).
The lower 25 states have a far outsized influence on EC votes, as noted above. Additionally, population statistics shows that it takes 183,396 people for one EC vote in the lower 25 states, and 263,514 people per EC vote in the upper 25, 44% more. This is hardly in line with the one person = one vote ideology.
It gets worse. For Clinton, in the lower 25 states, it took 214,148 voters per EC against Trump’s 164,495, an increase of 30%. In the upper 25 states, it took 312,411 voters Clinton to 224,652 Trump, an increase of 39%. That means the upper lower range of vote per EC, from Clinton’s most to Trump’s least, is 89%, almost double.
Overall, 66,495,553 million people voted for Clinton and 63,816,233 people voted for Trump. In terms of EC votes, it took 146498 Clinton voters for one EC vote and 136,477 Trump voters for one EC vote. This is a difference of 107%, or 7% more voters needed for Clinton to get an EC vote than for Trump to get one.
48.83% of Trump voters did not get a single EC vote, 22,328,000 million people. 44.18% of Clinton voters did not get a single EC vote, 32,883,000 million people. 47% more
Out of their totals, 49.45% of Clinton’s voters did not have their vote count in the EC, and 34.99% of Trump’s voters did not have their vote count in the EC. 41% more
Having half your voters not be counted is significant, as is having the disadvantage on every statistic. Trump votes counted on average 42% more than a Clinton vote, in every area. But it was most significant through low population states, almost needing 2 Clinton voters to 1 Trump voter to get an EC vote.
Applying this statistic to the total votes, Clinton would have had to have 90,619,051 voters to Trump’s 63,816,233 simply to break even in the EC, if all states were still won by the same candidate. That’s almost 30 million people, not just the 3 million Democrats were so upset about.
What it means is that If growth remains relatively stable for all states, and the trend of states voting for certain parties remains relatively stable, Democrats cannot win without a massively outsized voter total. That’s absurd, and it’s definitely not Representative.
All of this leads to candidates having to focus on states, not population, to win. And not the most populated states either. They have to pitch to the minority of voters, or win 42% more of the vote.
What a Clusterf*ck.