FixGovMisrepresentation in the home of RepresentativesGeorge Ingram and also Annababette WilsWednesday, February 22, 2017
Last November revealed the capstone of misrepresentation in American democracy as soon as Hillary Clinton winner the well-known vote by 2.9 million votes however lost in the Electoral College.

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But what around the U.S. Congress? exactly how representative the the American world is the home of Representatives? my partner Molly Reynolds find the Republican Party’s present “seat bonus”—a greater percentage the seats than of votes—aligns with the historic advantage for any bulk party in the residence over the critical 70 years, ago to 1946.

This short article focuses on how representative the new 115th conference is top top a state-by-state level.

Majority party over-represented

Despite that name, the residence of to represent is no so representative.

As the chart listed below shows, the full vote differential in between the two parties for elections to the residence in 2016 to be 1.2 percent. Yet the distinction in the variety of seats is 10.8 percent, giving a full of 21 extra seat to Republicans.

Figure 1: National circulation of Votes for Congress

“Misrepresented Seats”21-214.8%-4.8

Over-representation by state

This aggregate over-representation of the majority party is significantly extreme when looked in ~ state-by-state. In red states (see figure 2), republicans garnered 56 percent that the vote but 74.6 percent of representation. In blue states, Democrats winner 60.3 percent that the vote yet 69.1 percent of representation.


Almost all says are “true”—“true red states” have actually a Republican bulk of votes and representation; “true blue states” have a Democratic bulk of votes and representation. Two states are “flipped blue states;”in Virginia and Wisconsin Republicans received a bulk of seats in spite of Democrats winning a majority of the votes for Congress.

Misrepresentation is substantially larger within each red and blue grouping 보다 in the U.S. As a whole. Translated into seats in the House, democrats over-represent blue claims (excluding the 2 flipped states) through 19 seats, whereas republicans over-represent true red and flipped blue states by 40 seats. Republic over-represent red says (true and also flipped) through 16 portion points, when in united blue claims the disparity is 11 percentage points.

Figure 2: bulk Party Wins Disproportionate Representation


Misrepresentation in small and large states

For separation, personal, instance states, misrepresentation is also larger. The level that misrepresentation is 20 percent or higher in 23 states—almost fifty percent the country—and over 30 percent in 12 states.


To a details extent, misrepresentation is partially a function of state size. In little states through a single member—Alaska, Delaware, Montana, phibìc Dakota, south Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming—there is no alternate to the votes of a portion of the citizens no being represented. In this states, ~ above average, 37 percent of voters selected the losing party. Also states through two representatives—New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Maine, and Idaho—have a big degree that misrepresentation, on mean 28 percent. This is not surprising in a winner-take-all system. Overall, the misrepresentation indigenous these small states cancels out in the aggregate—in the 17 seat of these says there is just a 3 percentage suggest disparity between the circulation of votes and also the circulation of seats.

On the other excessive are the 4 largest states—New York, Florida, Texas, and California. Together, these claims send 143 to represent to Congress. Each has less than 10 percent misrepresentation—votes native the shedding party in one district room compensated in various other districts. Moreover, the in its entirety distribution indigenous these states is the storybook photo of democracy at work: between them, the distribution of votes and also seats to be equal, with less than 1 percent difference between votes and representation (45 percent for Republicans, 55 for Democrats).

 Figure 3: Misrepresentation in tiny and big States 2016


Note: The level of misrepresentation is computed as the difference between percent of votes and also percent of seats.

Misrepresentation in midsized states

 That leaves the 34 midsized states, through 275 seats amongst them, to account for the it was observed misrepresentation. Figure 4 plots the variety of seats from every state against the level of misrepresentation. Big and little states space gray; midsized claims are red. In general there is an inverse correlation in between the number of representatives from a state and the level that misrepresentation. Says with 3 to five representatives selection between 11 come 36 percent points that misrepresentation, when those through 10-20 representatives range from 4 to 24 percentage points of misrepresentation.

 Figure 4: variety of Seats in Congress compared to Level that Representation


Figure 5 listed below shows the level of misrepresentation in the 34 midsized states, ranked in stimulate of the level that misrepresentation v blue and red states shown separately. This number shows the quite huge level the disproportionate representation in numerous states. Out of the 34, much more than one-third (13) have a disparity between votes and representation of 20 percent or larger, and also in all yet five says the disparity is better than 10 percent.

Midsized red states have on typical a considerably greater percent level the misrepresentation—in these states, when 58 percent of the votes visited Republicans, they take it 76 percent of the seats—an 18 percentage suggest difference that translates into 34 seats. Comparatively, in the midsized blue states, 59 percent that votes were because that Democrats, who obtained 72 percent of seats—a 13 percentage allude difference the translates into 11 seats. Furthermore, red states consist of nine of the 13 claims with an excess of 20 points or higher misrepresentation.

Figure 5: Misrepresentation in Midsized states in 2016


Note: Level the misrepresentation computed as the difference in between percent the votes and also percent of seats.


What is basic this outcome? In principle, such outcomes are possible even if many of the state is competitive, but one party has an edge in the bulk of the districts. In practice, how districts are drawn can also impact outcomes. In fact, some states have moved to take redistricting away from chosen state political leaders by setting up independent redistricting commissions. The four big states that have actually independent commissions—California, brand-new Jersey, Washington, and Arizona—have less than 10 percent misrepresentation. The two various other states v independent commissions, Idaho, and also Montana, with two and one conference representatives respectively, have greater than 30 percent misrepresentation. Over there is no getting about size!

Overrepresentation by variety of seats every state

 As to says with the most variety of “extra” seats, Democrats conquer in California, with practically five addition seats. Republicans have about three extra seat in Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and also North Carolina.

Figure 6: Over-representation of bulk Party


Note: measured in congressional seat (compared with distribution of the votes).


The self-reliance of the U.S. Was released by a rebellion over the absence of representation. Misrepresentation deserve to lead to social and also economic policy distortions, feeding distrust, and also drive discontent in government. Gerrymandering hinders party competition and the result political syndicate feeds extremism in the majority party. The edge detailed by this misrepresentation offers the majority party disproportionate power that is specifically destabilizing and also dangerous in an era of heightened polarization and also partisanship.

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The data indicate that the many serious difficulty is in midsized states, a trouble that could be alleviated by the design of districts by live independence bodies.