As noted many times before, the USA has a systemic representation problem, built into the foundations of our government and electoral systems. Originally, Senators weren’t elected by the people at all, and there isn’t a rule stating that the President of all the USA has to be chosen by all the USA, only the representatives from the states, in whatever way they wish to choose that.
So it may surprise you to learn that the overall representation of the House of Representatives is very close to the amount of votes they receive nationally. It is an outlier; whereas 12% of the nation chooses 50% of the Senate by systemic design, and whereas this same design leads to a tilt in the minority population states’ favor for the Electoral College, it stands to reason that the Representatives. for each state actually represent the nation’s political stances, and on the surface, it does just that: Democrats won 51.4% of the total votes, and gained 219 seats, whereas Republicans won 48.7% of the vote and won 214. That looks about right, but let’s dig a bit deeper.
First of all, while the percents are close, the seat totals are closer. 214 / 433 is 49.42%, which is 0.7% more than the GOP actually won. And 219 / 433 is 50.6%, which is 0.8% less than what the Democrats actually won. If it went purely by population, then the GOP would have won 210-211 seats, and the Democrats would have won 222 seats. That’s a 6 seat swing! Where did that come from?
Each state has their own races which contribute to this result. As such, I think it would be educational to go through the states and look at where the vote totals do not match the corresponding seat results. Nationally this is hard to analyze, but per state it should be quite representative. I mean, districts are drawn to accurately get people their representation, are they not? (please mind your step to avoid the dripping sarcasm).
We will go through a few example states, but feel free to look them all over. In fact, I have gone through each state and pulled out the extreme outliers, which I will touch on at the end of this exploration. But I will leave that table for the end, so you can see this as I did. First: random selection!
Random Selection State Analysis
383,068 votes for Democrats. 888,760 votes for Republicans. 7 seats available.
Based on that ratio, you would expect 30% of the seats to be Democrat, and 57% to be Republican, or roughly 2 seats to 5 seats. Instead, it’s 1 to 6, and that only because the Democrat ran unopposed.
Tipped 1 seat towards the GOP.
1,767,563 votes for Republicans, 1,504,709 votes for Democrats. 46% for Democrats. 9 seats available.
Expected result = 4 seats Democrats, 5 Republican. Actual results: 7 seats Republican, 2 seats Democrat.
Tipped 2 seats towards the GOP
699,001 votes for Republicans, 1,342,026 votes for Democrats. 9 seats available.
Based on that ratio, you would expect 34% of the seats to go to Republicans, or 3 seats Republican, 6 Democrat. All nine went to Democrats, with half having zero opposition.
Tipped 3 seats towards the Democrats
2,539,128 votes for Democrats, 1,843,047 votes for Republicans. 12 seats available.
Expected outcome: 5 Republican, 7 Democrat. Actual results = 2 Republican, 10 Democrat
Tipped 3 seats towards the Democrats
2,631,336 Republican, 2,319,079 Democrat. 13 seats available.
Expected outcome: 6 seats Democrats, 7 seats Republican. Actual result = 5 Democrat, 8 Republican
Tipped 1 seat towards Republicans
5,926,712 Republican 4,896,673 Democrat. 36 seats available.
Expected results = 16D / 20R. Actual results = 13D / 23R
Tipped 3 seats to Republicans.
1,566,671 Democrat votes versus 1,661,399 votes Republican. 8 seats available.
Expected result: 4 R / 4 D. Actual results: 5R / 3D
Tipped 1 seat for Republicans.
Based on Random Selection, it appears that the states tip slightly to Republicans, but more to Democrats in the states that tip their way. I’m curious if this is a trend nationwide, so I ran the numbers for all the states. The results below, and an exploration of the outliers.
Full Per State Analysis
In this analysis I have eliminated any states with only one seat, as that would obviously be whomever gets the highest number of votes in a single contest. It may be worth looking at how many people in those states did not get represented however, which will be touched on in the outliers.
|State Name||Votes D||Votes R||Exp D||Exp R||Act D||Act R||Tip|
|New Hampshire||413895||354045||1||1||2||0||1 D|
|New Jersey||2539128||1843047||7||5||10||2||3 D|
|New York||4649781||2984880||16||10||19||7||3 D|
|North Carolina||2319079||2631336||6||7||5||8||1 R|
|Rhode Island||312636||109814||1||1||2||0||1 D|
|South Carolina||1076799||1412684||3||4||1||6||2 R|
|West Virginia||246903||514268||1||2||0||3||1 R|
From the chart above we can find some interesting observations:
– The highest impact of unrepresentative districting is in California, swinging the vote 8 seats in the Democrats’ favor.
– Other big swings are in Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York for Democrats and Ohio and Texas for Republicans.
– 23 states were tipped in the Republicans’ favor
– 15 states were tipped in the Democrats’ favor
– The total swing in 2020 was 2 seats in the Republican Party’s favor, based on the per state analysis.
Note that this explains only 2 of the potential 6 swings noted above? Well much of that is because of close races in large districts! The highest nominal vote difference where the GOP won was 1,030,039 in Texas, but that is dwarfed by the margins won by Democrats in New York (1,664,901) and California (4,779,836). In other races like Georgia, despite getting 92,150 more votes overall, Democrats got 2 less seats than Republicans did. A lot of this has to do with some races being unopposed, which screws with the statistics something fierce.
Obviously, California is an outlier in how much in the favor of Democrats its districting has helped, as well as the outsized population. It amplifies the effects.
South Dakota’s single seat ran entirely unopposed.
8 States went entirely to Democrats, and 11 to Republicans, for a total of 24 and 26 seats, respectively, with 2,727,356 Democrats and 2,633,275 Republicans getting no representation in US Congress.
Alabama had 3 uncontested races out of 7 total. Massachusetts had 4 out of 9
If I were a Republican in California, I might feel rightly cheated of representation based on how the system is setup and how the districts are drawn. Similarly if I were a Democrat in Ohio or Texas. While the population totals don’t have to mean the districts are drawn poorly, these states with a 3+ swing may indicate problems, and should be examined to make sure we are providing fair representation.
In any case, it seems that while the House of Representatives more closely matches the People’s Vote, it is not a 1:1 representation of each state’s population, nor a fully accurate national picture either. Potential fixes could be increasing the number of representatives (thus giving states with single representatives a voice for opposing parties) or looking at how districting is done and the impact on the vote, as done above.
Until things are fixed, the USA still, even in the most representative national House, is under minority rule influence.