The 46 Senate Democrats represent WAY more votes than the 54 Republicans

There has been some arguing in the threads about Scalia’s death, and the nomination/confirmation of his replacement, along the following lines:

Democratic Doper: “President Obama won the 2012 election fair and square, and he’s still got almost a year left in his term.”

Republican Doper: “Okay, but Republicans won their majority in the Senate fair and square, too–and that 2014 election that gave them control was more recent than Obama’s 2012 reelection.”

Right off the bat, there was from my POV an obviously bogus element of the latter claim: not only did only 33 of the 100 members of the Senate get elected or reelected in 2014, 17 states–including big blue states like California and New York–had no Senate election at all. Then there’s the fact that it was a midterm election, which always represents less of the U.S. population’s views than does a presidential election: there were only about 40 million total votes cast for Republicans and Democrats combined in 2014 Senate races, compared to 127 million votes for Obama and Romney combined.

Beyond that, though, I wondered how the difference in states’ populations would shake out in terms of how many Americans’ votes the 54 Republicans now in the Senate represent, vs. the number for the 46 Democrats. So I got out the NYT election atlases and started adding with my computer’s calculator. It took a while, so I didn’t go back to double-check; thus, if these are way off, feel free to set me straight. But I was pretty careful, so I think this is at least close.

And the results were (drumroll) that the 46 Democrats in the Senate represent roughly 67.9 million votes, a little more than the 66 million Obama received in 2012. But the 54 Republicans represent a cumulative total of only 45.9 million votes, *way *below Romney’s haul of 61 million.

So when you’re tempted to describe the obstructionist Republicans in the Senate as “doing the will of the people”, maybe think twice unless you have a shit-ton of chutzpah on hand. :stuck_out_tongue:

If people really cared about democratic legitimacy the political landscape would be unrecognizable. I don’t see many calling to abolish the Senate or increase the representative count to 1,000+.

Your making a point of the obvious.

Senators are elected by State, two per State. US House Representatives are based on a more proportional basis.

As I recall that was the intent of the Constitution.

The disparities between large and small states’ populations were nowhere near as great 227 years ago.

I took a little different tack, looking at the populations of the states and their Senate representation.

16 states with a total population of 125,429,808 have 2 Democratic Senators*
20 states with a total population of 104,653,543 have 2 Republican Senators
14 states with a total population of 90,663,241 have a split delegation

For this purpose, the independents who caucus with Democrats count as Democrats.

So about 21 million more people are represented by Democratic Senators than Republican ones, but they get 8 fewer Senators to show for it.

Or you could put it another way:

The states of Wyoming, Alaska, South Dakota, Idaho, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Utah, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Alabama have a total population of 38,602,257 and they get represented by 26 Republican Senators. The state of California has a population of 39,144,818 and gets represented by 2 Democrats.

We all know about the Great Compromise and how the Founders got there. But the result more than 200 years later is a system where the rural states have entirely too much power in the Senate to thwart the will of the more urban states with many more people.

I have long wanted our national government to be truly national rather than state-based.

That includes a 1,000+ lower house whose districts are drawn by a non-political agency and geographically centered on logical geographical-economic regions without respect to state borders (which means that a state like Wyoming might have zero districts entirely within its boundaries) and topped off with party lists to match overall proportion of votes New Zealand style.

Haven’t figured out the upper house yet.

It’s really no secret that we’re not totally democratic. For the exact same reason the United Nations isn’t totally democratic. Guinea gets just as many General Assembly votes as China.

THe US is a federation of states, and the states are regarded as sovereign under our system of government. So the Senate is very much like a General Assembly, while the House is closer to being a true people’s body.

It’s possible that like Britain’s House of Lords, the Senate may someday become obsolete, stripped of most of its power by constitutional amendments. But our country is still fairly young. It’ll be hundreds of years before that happens.

That will require a change in culture, and due to the size of our country that will take longer than it did in Britain. Even assuming massive demographic change, in 200 years North Dakota will probably still be a very different place than California, which will be very different from New York. As long as different regions have different interests, those interests will have to be balanced. Democracy cannot involve New York and California arguing over whether North Dakota gets to drill for oil.

Sure it can- why should ND get to adversely affect the environment of the entire continent just to line its own pockets?

The economic benefits actually spread further than the environmental risks. Everyone gets to enjoy the lower gas prices, while the risk of oil spills is disproportionately born by the state where the drilling is happening.

But anyway, the point was that as long as we live in a very large, diverse country with a lot of regional interests, there’s still a valid reason to balance those interests. If you think Wall Street is powerful now, given New York 30 Senators.

Not to mention… while the Senate was a compromise to allow all states the same power, the House was designed to give equal power to each voter…no matter their state. Funny how that isn’t working these days, due to the gerrymandered districts. I am told on very good authority that the minority House Democrat candidates garnered far more votes that the victorious Republicans. Does anyone have those actual totals easily available?

For the 2012 election the Democrats did win the popular vote by a very slim margin, and did win some seats, but even without gerrymandering, Democrats tend to be concentrated so there are a lot of 90-10 districts. Mathematically if there is no gerrymandering, the presence of a 90-10 D district will mean the presence of a few 60-40 R districts nearby. So historically, even before the 2010 election, Democrats needed at least a 3 percentage point victory to have a shot at taking the House.

The GOP won the popular vote in 2010 and 2014 though.

Crucible, I think that was only in 2012. But it’s not necessarily gerrymandering so much as Democrats tending to clump in central cities in a non efficient manner. To even things out, we would need to gerrymander by drawing districts like skinny pie wedges. But the CBC would be unhappy and could even sue, declaring it a violation of civil rights to erase “majority minority” districts.

Going back to the Senate, it’s actually really impressive how much of the past 15 years it has been controlled by Democrats, when you think about it.

What was impressive was how badly the Republican Party governed to cause that. the GOP should have a natural majority in both chambers of Congress. When they don’t, it’s because they seriously screwed up.

Why should we care about “regional interests”? A region should be important if and only if and exactly to the extent that it contains significant numbers of people. I mean, the region consisting of my living room has no power whatsoever in the Senate. Should it? Of course not, because the population of that region is so low. So if my living room shouldn’t get an equal voice in the Senate, why should Wyoming?

Why should they have a natural majority? Because they represent all that is wholesome and good? Because rural areas are so grossly overrepresented?

Is that a serious question? I’ll be happy to answer it if it’s a serious question, but on the face of it, it does not appear to be.

SlackerInc, if you think it’s about Democrats “clumping up” in cities, you might want to take a look at my district, the Michigan 14th. Half of Detroit, then it swoops out to another county to pick up the entire city of Pontiac. Putting two “clumps” that far apart into one district plainly makes the case that it is gerrymandering.

It only appears non-serious because it’s obviously absurd to demand equal representation for my living room in the Senate. But it’s just as obviously absurd, so far as I can tell, to demand equal representation for Wyoming. Why should Wyoming have just as much say in the Senate as California? Because they’re both states? Sure, and so what? Why should states all have equal say?

I’ve compiled some data on the 2014 elections for the State Senate in Michigan (all 38 seats were up for grabs). Democrats got 1,486,209 votes, Republicans got 1,530,712 votes. OK, fine, Republicans win the Senate. No problem with them having a majority, they got 50.74% of the votes. But they also got 27 of the 38 seats (71.05%), thanks to gerrymandering. The LOWEST Democratic margin of victory was 62.3%-37.7%. There were 22 Republicans who won their seat with lower margins, 5 had less than 55% of the vote. The average number of Democrats to vote for their winning Senator: 135,110. The average number of Republican votes for their winning Senator: 56,693.