Wed. Sep 27th, 2023

Written by Robert Warden

It has occurred to me that the way Senators are apportioned, 2 per state, favors smaller, more rural, less populous states, which tend to vote for Republicans compared to larger states. The most glaring example of this relative disenfranchisement of voters in more populous states is my state, California, which has the largest population. In order to do an actual, numerical examination of this issue, I found the percentage of the U.S. population in each state, according to the most recent estimates (2016), and also whether the 2 Senators from each state are Democrats, Republicans, or one of each. (I used to be known for data crunching in my blogs years ago, as a trained researcher and statistician, although these are little amateur projects that I can easily do on my home computer. LOL However, I had gotten away from the numerical analyses for a while.)

Here are the sources of my data:…/List_of_U.S._states_and_territor……/List_of_current_United_States_Se…

The following is a table by state, showing the percentage of U.S. population in each state, followed by whether the two Senators from that state are Democrats (D), Republicans (R), or one of each (S for Split between the two parties). Fortuitously, since there are exactly 100 Senators in Congress, the population percentage is the same as the number of Senators that each state would have if Senators were apportioned proportionally to each states’ population. After compiling this table, I added up the number of Senators in the Democratic states, and the Republican states, and divided the number of Senators for the split states by two, then added that to the Democratic or Republican totals.

1. California, 12 D

2. Texas, 9 R

3. New York, 6 D

4. Florida, 6 S

5. Illinois, 4 D

6. Pennsylvania, 4 S

7. Ohio, 4 S

8. Virginia, 3 D

9. North Carolina, 3 R

10. Georgia, 3 R

11. Michigan, 3 D

12. New Jersey, 3 D

13. Washington 2 D

14. Arizona, 2 R

15. Massachusetts, 2 D

16. Tennessee, 2 R

17. Indiana, 2 S

18. Missouri, 2 S

19. Maryland, 2 D

20. Wisconsin, 2 S

21. Colorado, 2 S

22. Minnesota, 2 D

23. South Carolina, 2 R

24. Alabama, 2 R

25. Louisiana, 1 R

26. Kentucky, 1 R

27. Oregon, 1 D

28. Oklahoma, 1 R

29. Connecticutt, 1 D

30. Puerto Rico, 1 D?

31. Iowa, 1 R

32. Utah, 1 R

33. Mississippi, 1 R

34. Arkansas, 1 R

35. Nevada, 1 S

36. Kansas, 1 R

37. New Mexico, 1 D

38. Nebraska, 1 R

39. West Virginia, 1 R

40. Idaho, 1 R

41. Hawaii, 0

42. New Hampshire, 0

43. Maine, 0

44. Rhode Island, 0

45. Montana, 0

46. Delaware, 0

47. South Dakota, 0

48. North Dakota, 0

49. Alaska, 0

50. District of Columbia, 0

51. Vermont, 0

52. Wyoming, 0

I rounded off the population percentage for each state to the nearest whole number. The population percentages add up to 100%. Note that this table includes Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., so 52 places are included in all. Also, 12 places had less than 1/2% of the U.S. population, which would leave them with no Senators by proportional representation. Some of these places trend Democratic, others, Republican.

The results of this analysis are striking. The number of Senators adds up to 53 1/2 Democrats in the Senate if proportional to state population, including liberal independents, instead of the current 48; it would be 54 1/2 if Puerto Rico would go Democratic as expected.

The number of Republican Senators by proportional representatoin adds up to only 45 1/2 Republicans in the Senate instead of the current 52. Needless to say, this result would change the current majority in the Senate from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, which would greatly change government dynamics.

This is 6 1/2 more Democrats, and 6 1/2 fewer Republicans, than are currently in the Senate, showing the effects of the de facto Senate gerrymandering as written in the Constitution and taken advantage of by Republicans who appeal to rural, older, white American voters. (Of course, in practice there would not be 1/2 of a Senator, so the results translate into 6 or 7 more Democratic Senators and 6 or 7 fewer Republican Senators than there actually are.)

The argument for having the same number of Senators from each state is to give each state equal representation. In fact, however, the reason that the Senate was designed with 2 per state in the Constitution is that the less populous states insisted upon that before signing on to the Constitution. There is really nothing advantageous about this disproportionate representation, as I see it. In fact, it is yet another problem that stiffles democracy in the United States to some extent. As with actual gerrymandering, and other tricks used mostly by Republicans to gain more representation and power in govnernment, this one happens to favor them. It might have happened accidentally, but regardless, Republicans are probably aware of their advantage in gaining Senators from less populous states, and take advantage of it.

What should be done about this issue? Perhaps some hybrid system, which would help Democrats, as it should, but without completely denying representation in the Senate to the least populous states — ones with less than 1/2 percent of the U.S. population. They could be given one Senator each, just as they have one Representative in the House of Representatives. The remainder of Senators would then be apportioned according to population. Notice that my state, California, would benefit greatly from proportional representation in the Senate, and other populous states would benefit as well. California would have 12 Senators if completely proportional, instead of 2, and even with the compromise giving every state at least one Senator, it would still probably have 10 Senators.

I think reforming the Senate in such a way as to have the apportionment of Senators be more proportional to each state’s population, would only be fair, and a good step forward in leading to better governance, helping to bring more minority people and progressives into politics and give progressives better access to having a voice in our government.

contain slightly more than half of the total population. The 25 least populous states contain less than one-sixth of the total population.


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