As someone who cares a great deal about urban areas and urban policy, I often find myself idly seething at the distribution of political power in this country. I certainly understand why the Senate and Electoral College came to be as they are, but it’s striking to think of how incredibly vast the disparities in representation have become. It’s also striking to see how few people this bothers. A resident of Wyoming basically hasÂ four votes for President for every one vote a CalifornianÂ casts and 70 votes in the Senate for everyÂ Golden Stater. Why does this make sense? Do Utahans or West Virginians or South CaroliniansÂ orÂ Mainers(?) have some special traits that entitle themÂ to more voting rights than others? Certainly not.
If Senate seats were distributed according to population (using estimates from 2006, and ensuring that every state had at least one Senator–that is, still giving small states too much influence) the changes would be significant. Just imagine if the Senate looked like this:
California – 12 seats, TexasÂ - 7, Florida – 6,Â New York -Â 6,Â Illinois – 4, Pennsylvania – 4, Georgia – 3, Michigan – 3, New Jersey – 3, North Carolina – 3,Â Ohio – 3,Â Arizona – 2, Indiana – 2, Massachusetts – 2, Missouri – 2, Tennessee – 2, Virginia – 2,Â Washington – 2, all others – 1. If you include the District (and you should!), we’d get one of New Jersey’s seats. This is how a system that was more fair, yet still biased in favor of small states, would look. To be perfectly fair, the five smallest states would share a Senator, the next ten would share four, and the next six would share five. Only then would we get to Connecticut, the smallest state deserving its own member of the upper house.