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Counting the 118th House of Representatives

Of 435 seats, the top three states populate over a quarter of the House.

Do we really know what’s in 118th House of Representatives? A panel of untrained scientists (i.e., me) have attempted to extract some key ingredients for analysis.

There are 222 members expected for Republicans, which you may think is mostly a southern party. In the 118th, it is exactly half-southern (using the Census regions). It is half-southern, a tenth north-eastern, a quarter mid-western, and about 16% western.

But even within the south, a plurality of it is concentrated in two states. Texas and Florida make up 40% of the southern conference. California accounts for 34% of the western bloc, while New York is half of the northeastern strain of the conference. The midwest stands out, in that no state really dominates. Ohio is closest, but it provides only 19% of that region’s Republican members.

Total members sent by region, for comparison:

  • Northeast sends 76 members (17%)
  • Midwest sends 91 members (21%)
  • South sends 164 members (38%)
  • West sends 104 members (24%)

But given the southern region includes more states, the per-state membership means are:

  • Northeast averages 8.4
  • Midwest averages 7.6
  • South averages 10.3 (not including the District of Columbia, which is allowed merely a delegate)
  • West averages 8.7

It’s interesting to realize that California Republicans are twice as many as Alabama Republicans in the House. Going the other way, in the 118th Texas (13) will send only one fewer Democrat than Illinois (14) (and New York will send 15).

California is the powerhouse for Democrats, sending 40 members, an almost four-to-one partisan ratio. Its the largest state, and its 52 members are almost 12% of the House.

On the other end, single-member states, the two parties split the six of them. Alaska, Delaware, and Vermont for Democrats; North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming for Republicans. The two-member states are also single-party in membership. There are seven of them, and they favor the Democrats by one state. Idaho, Montana, and West Virginia are for Republicans; Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island will seat Democrats. And the pair of three-member states are the same story again: Nebraska for Republicans, New Mexico for Democrats.

That’s already 15 states (30%) and 26 members (6%). That’s 14 seats for Democrats and 12 seats for Republicans.

It’s only when we get to four-member states that we see the first mixture in membership. While Arkansas, Iowa, and Utah all give their four seats to Republicans, Kansas and Mississippi each give one of them to Democrats, and Nevada gives one to Republicans. These 24 members and six states nearly match the previous batch in percent of members, though heavily tilted toward Republicans: 19 seats to five.

There are two five-member states, Connecticut and Oklahoma, and both are exclusive to one party (Democrats and Republicans, respectively) in the 118th. Kentucky and Louisiana both give five of their six to Republicans, while Oregon gives four of its six to Democrats.

Alabama and South Carolina both give six of their seven seats to Republicans. With 42 members, the five-member, six-member, and seven-member states, seven in all, are nearly 10% of the House, and they give Republicans 27 members but only 15 to the Democrats.

Colorado gives five of their eight seats to Democrats, while Maryland gives seven of theirs to the Democrats. Minnesota is the rare split state, giving four to each party. Missouri and Wisconsin each give six of their eight seats to Republicans. With 40 members, these five eight-member states again make a little under 10% of the House, but 24 of them are Republican seats.

Massachusetts has the distinction of being the largest single-party state, with all nine seats being Democratic. The other three nine-seaters are also imbalanced. Arizona gives six to Republicans, while Indiana and Tennessee give seven and eight, respectively. These four states with 36 seats account for 8% of the House and give 21 seats to Republicans.

After that come some larger states which lean toward Democrats. Washington gives eight of its ten to Democrats, and nine of New Jersey’s 12 seats are for Democrats. But Virginia and Michigan are both near-splits. Democrats get six of Virginia’s 11, and they get seven of Michigan’s 13 seats.

After you get past nine members, the next seat commonality is 14 for North Carolina and Georgia. Georgia leans more Republican, with nine of its seats for that conference, while North Carolina is the second and last split-state at seven apiece.

Together these six larger-but-not-huge states send 74 members, or 17% of the House, 42 of which are for Democrats.

Ohio yields two Republican seats for every Democratic one, with ten Republicans out of its 15 members. And the final commonality is at 17 seats for both Illinois and Pennsylvania. Illinois favors Democrats at 14 seats, while Pennsylvania is nearly split, with nine seats for Democrats.

Those three states provide 49 members to the House, about 11% of its capacity.

Finally, the other big three that aren’t California. New York is more purple than you might remember, giving only 15 of its 26 seats to Democrats. About 6% of the House hails from New York in the 118th.

But Florida is less purple than memory would have it. A full score of its 28 members are Republicans. Like New York, it fills about 6% of the House seats.

And Texas. The lone-star state, inexplicably, has the second most seats after California. Not so lone, there are 38 of them (close to 9% of the House), of which 25 are Republicans, practically two-to-one.

All told, there are only six mostly-balanced states (partisan percents in the 40s or 50s) out of 44 that could be balanced (i.e., six only have one seat in the House). They are Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Notably, they all have at least eight members (Minnesota being that one). Together they send 89 members, or 20% of the House, and they break slightly in favor of Democrats with 48 members (54% of their members).

Is that a coincidence? Are these all states of transition, on their way to more partisan slates? In some ways they are all in geographically transitional parts of the country, between the south and northeast, or the northeast and midwest.

On the other hand, the odds of smaller states to get in balance is lower, given fewer combinations making it within one or two seats of balance. Only 50% of configurations of a two-seater is balanced, and a three-seat state split 2-1 would still be rather unbalanced.

If the House were expanded significantly, we would likely see more states approach something closer to balance, and that would make the House healthier for all of us. But it would also require changes to rules and norms, and there’s been little sign of any real effort to increase the seat count.

As for partisan states, which I’ll define as having at least four seats and where two-thirds or more are for one party, there are 27 of them, out of 35 that have at least four members. (Colorado and Georgia are both partisan, but neither is quite two-thirds partisan in the 118th.) The partisan states send 293 members (67% of the House) and fill 157 Republican seats. Thus, about 54% of the partisan-state seats are Republican.

2020 Census Apportionment Fun

In celebration of the release of the 2020 Census data, here are some calculations that show different apportionment scenarios.

Some years back I wrote a Python script to calculate apportionment, and with the Census Bureau releasing the 2020 data, I decided to do some calculations of various apportionments. Others have noted that New York lost a seat by only 89 people. For starters, which states would have gained (or held) a seat if their populations were 100 000 larger?

  • New York (h)
  • Ohio (h)
  • Idaho
  • West Virginia (h)
  • Delaware
  • Arizona

California will have 52 House members for the next decade. How many seats would there need to be so that all states had that many (this means to get Wyoming to 52)? About 29500. Each one would represent around 11 000 people. (This is barred by the Constitution, which sets the minimum at 30 000…. Though, if a state ever has fewer than 30K persons, it will still get one seat.) If this were possible, California alone would have over 3500 seats.

If each seat represented the constitutional minimum of 30 000, how many would that be? (Equivalent to asking how many to get WY to 20 seats, as they have 577K persons.) About 11 000 representatives. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that’s about as many as are currently employed as adhesive bonding machine operators. (There are currently around 25 000 legislators in the country at various levels, according to the same.)

A middle-case: how many seats to get California to 435 representatives—the current total for the whole House? At 3640 seats, California gets 435 of them. Each seat represents about 96 000 people.

Let’s try something less extreme. How many seats to get Wyoming to two seats? A mere 811, less than double the House’s current size. Each member would have about 300K constituents, still more than in 1911 when the current size of the House was set (about 210K in 1913, per Wikipedia, and it was still under 300K per seat in 1929 when the current law was passed). At 811 seats, 24 states would have up to ten seats, 14 up to 20, and 12 with more than 20.

There’s been talk about Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, becoming states. If they were, then under the current census, DC would get one seat and Puerto Rico four. Those five seats would come from California, Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, and Oregon. Assuming all but Montana’s were and stayed Democratic in both cases, it would mostly be a wash in the House. (The census figures do include overseas population for DC, but not for Puerto Rico; it’s unclear if it would have made a difference and I didn’t try to check.)

And if both DC and PR were states, and you wanted WY (and every other state) to have at least two seats, it would take 821 seats. In that case, Puerto Rico would have eight seats.

We can also go back to the first apportionment act, the Apportionment Act of 1792, which set the House at 105 members. You know what’s coming: what if there were only 105 members? California would get 11, and would be the only state with ten or more. Texas would get eight, with both Florida and New York claiming six. A full 27 states would have only one representative.

The United States should clearly expand the House. I favor setting the number such that the smallest state has at least two representatives, so long as every state has a reasonable population to support it. There would be changes to the House in order to handle that many legislators. Some of those changes would be to take advantage of increased human bandwidth, including more total staff, but others which would require limits to how speechmaking could be handled.

Still, the overall effect would be to push more business into committees, where it belongs. The body of the House seldom sees real debate or business, and having too many people to pretend otherwise would be a positive change. Indeed, they would probably assign each member a class and restrict floor activity to a particular class for each day of the week for any kind of open debate (with customs akin to pairing developing to allow for trading by issue). But even then, it would be a limited activity.

The committee-run body makes more sense anyway, as too often legislators outside their expertise already derail important progress of our nation. More members means more committees with more granularity of the scope of each. It would mean more dysfunctional members, but they would also be a smaller percentage due to the size of the body (and they would be heard from less often in the chamber, due to the changes in speaking rules required).

See below for the output for each scenario, with the disclaimer that I did not verify my results. No state redistricting commission (from an alternate universe) should use these results without double-checking!

(2020 apportionment) Seats = 435
'AK:  1', 'AL:  7', 'AR:  4', 'AZ:  9',
'CA: 52', 'CO:  8', 'CT:  5', 'DE:  1',
'FL: 28', 'GA: 14', 'HI:  2', 'IA:  4',
'ID:  2', 'IL: 17', 'IN:  9', 'KS:  4',
'KY:  6', 'LA:  6', 'MA:  9', 'MD:  8',
'ME:  2', 'MI: 13', 'MN:  8', 'MO:  8',
'MS:  4', 'MT:  2', 'NC: 14', 'ND:  1',
'NE:  3', 'NH:  2', 'NJ: 12', 'NM:  3',
'NV:  4', 'NY: 26', 'OH: 15', 'OK:  5',
'OR:  6', 'PA: 17', 'RI:  2', 'SC:  7',
'SD:  1', 'TN:  9', 'TX: 38', 'UT:  4',
'VA: 11', 'VT:  1', 'WA: 10', 'WI:  8',
'WV:  2', 'WY:  1',

(WY parity with 2020 CA) Seats = 29517
'AK:   66', 'AL:  448', 'AR:  269', 'AZ: 638',
'CA: 3528', 'CO:  515', 'CT:  322', 'DE:  88',
'FL: 1923', 'GA:  956', 'HI:  130', 'IA: 285',
'ID:  164', 'IL: 1143', 'IN:  605', 'KS: 262',
'KY:  402', 'LA:  416', 'MA:  627', 'MD: 551',
'ME:  122', 'MI:  899', 'MN:  509', 'MO: 549',
'MS:  264', 'MT:   97', 'NC:  932', 'ND:  70',
'NE:  175', 'NH:  123', 'NJ:  829', 'NM: 189',
'NV:  277', 'NY: 1802', 'OH: 1053', 'OK: 353',
'OR:  378', 'PA: 1160', 'RI:   98', 'SC: 457',
'SD:   79', 'TN:  617', 'TX: 2601', 'UT: 292',
'VA:  771', 'VT:   57', 'WA:  688', 'WI: 526',
'WV:  160', 'WY:   52',

(30K per seat) Seats = 11175
'AK:   25', 'AL: 170', 'AR: 102', 'AZ: 242',
'CA: 1335', 'CO: 195', 'CT: 122', 'DE:  33',
'FL:  728', 'GA: 362', 'HI:  49', 'IA: 108',
'ID:   62', 'IL: 433', 'IN: 229', 'KS:  99',
'KY:  152', 'LA: 157', 'MA: 237', 'MD: 209',
'ME:   46', 'MI: 340', 'MN: 193', 'MO: 208',
'MS:  100', 'MT:  37', 'NC: 353', 'ND:  26',
'NE:   66', 'NH:  47', 'NJ: 314', 'NM:  72',
'NV:  105', 'NY: 682', 'OH: 398', 'OK: 134',
'OR:  143', 'PA: 439', 'RI:  37', 'SC: 173',
'SD:   30', 'TN: 233', 'TX: 985', 'UT: 111',
'VA:  292', 'VT:  22', 'WA: 260', 'WI: 199',
'WV:   61', 'WY:  20',

(CA to 435) Seats = 3640
'AK:   8', 'AL:  55', 'AR:  33', 'AZ: 79',
'CA: 435', 'CO:  63', 'CT:  40', 'DE: 11',
'FL: 237', 'GA: 118', 'HI:  16', 'IA: 35',
'ID:  20', 'IL: 141', 'IN:  75', 'KS: 32',
'KY:  50', 'LA:  51', 'MA:  77', 'MD: 68',
'ME:  15', 'MI: 111', 'MN:  63', 'MO: 68',
'MS:  33', 'MT:  12', 'NC: 115', 'ND:  9',
'NE:  22', 'NH:  15', 'NJ: 102', 'NM: 23',
'NV:  34', 'NY: 222', 'OH: 130', 'OK: 44',
'OR:  47', 'PA: 143', 'RI:  12', 'SC: 56',
'SD:  10', 'TN:  76', 'TX: 320', 'UT: 36',
'VA:  95', 'VT:   7', 'WA:  85', 'WI: 65',
'WV:  20', 'WY:   6',

(Two seats for WY) Seats = 811
'AK:  2', 'AL: 12', 'AR:  7', 'AZ: 18',
'CA: 97', 'CO: 14', 'CT:  9', 'DE:  2',
'FL: 53', 'GA: 26', 'HI:  4', 'IA:  8',
'ID:  5', 'IL: 31', 'IN: 17', 'KS:  7',
'KY: 11', 'LA: 11', 'MA: 17', 'MD: 15',
'ME:  3', 'MI: 25', 'MN: 14', 'MO: 15',
'MS:  7', 'MT:  3', 'NC: 26', 'ND:  2',
'NE:  5', 'NH:  3', 'NJ: 23', 'NM:  5',
'NV:  8', 'NY: 49', 'OH: 29', 'OK: 10',
'OR: 10', 'PA: 32', 'RI:  3', 'SC: 13',
'SD:  2', 'TN: 17', 'TX: 71', 'UT:  8',
'VA: 21', 'VT:  2', 'WA: 19', 'WI: 14',
'WV:  4', 'WY:  2',

(PR/DC as states) Seats = 435
'AK:  1', 'AL:  7', 'AR:  4', 'AZ:  9',
'CA: 51', 'CO:  7', 'CT:  5', 'DC:  1',
'DE:  1', 'FL: 28', 'GA: 14', 'HI:  2',
'IA:  4', 'ID:  2', 'IL: 17', 'IN:  9',
'KS:  4', 'KY:  6', 'LA:  6', 'MA:  9',
'MD:  8', 'ME:  2', 'MI: 13', 'MN:  7',
'MO:  8', 'MS:  4', 'MT:  1', 'NC: 14',
'ND:  1', 'NE:  3', 'NH:  2', 'NJ: 12',
'NM:  3', 'NV:  4', 'NY: 26', 'OH: 15',
'OK:  5', 'OR:  5', 'PA: 17', 'PR:  4',
'RI:  2', 'SC:  7', 'SD:  1', 'TN:  9',
'TX: 38', 'UT:  4', 'VA: 11', 'VT:  1',
'WA: 10', 'WI:  8', 'WV:  2', 'WY:  1',

(Two for WY and has DC/PR as states) Seats = 821
'AK:  2', 'AL: 12', 'AR:  7', 'AZ: 18',
'CA: 97', 'CO: 14', 'CT:  9', 'DC:  2',
'DE:  2', 'FL: 53', 'GA: 26', 'HI:  4',
'IA:  8', 'ID:  5', 'IL: 31', 'IN: 17',
'KS:  7', 'KY: 11', 'LA: 11', 'MA: 17',
'MD: 15', 'ME:  3', 'MI: 25', 'MN: 14',
'MO: 15', 'MS:  7', 'MT:  3', 'NC: 26',
'ND:  2', 'NE:  5', 'NH:  3', 'NJ: 23',
'NM:  5', 'NV:  8', 'NY: 49', 'OH: 29',
'OK: 10', 'OR: 10', 'PA: 32', 'PR:  8',
'RI:  3', 'SC: 13', 'SD:  2', 'TN: 17',
'TX: 71', 'UT:  8', 'VA: 21', 'VT:  2',
'WA: 19', 'WI: 14', 'WV:  4', 'WY:  2',

(Apportionment Act of 1792) Seats = 105
'AK:  1', 'AL:  1', 'AR:  1', 'AZ:  2',
'CA: 11', 'CO:  2', 'CT:  1', 'DE:  1',
'FL:  6', 'GA:  3', 'HI:  1', 'IA:  1',
'ID:  1', 'IL:  4', 'IN:  2', 'KS:  1',
'KY:  1', 'LA:  1', 'MA:  2', 'MD:  2',
'ME:  1', 'MI:  3', 'MN:  2', 'MO:  2',
'MS:  1', 'MT:  1', 'NC:  3', 'ND:  1',
'NE:  1', 'NH:  1', 'NJ:  3', 'NM:  1',
'NV:  1', 'NY:  6', 'OH:  3', 'OK:  1',
'OR:  1', 'PA:  4', 'RI:  1', 'SC:  2',
'SD:  1', 'TN:  2', 'TX:  8', 'UT:  1',
'VA:  2', 'VT:  1', 'WA:  2', 'WI:  2',
'WV:  1', 'WY:  1',

(Humans and states are quantum fluctuations) Seats = ????
'??: ???', '??  ???', '??: ???', '??: ???',
' ?: ???', '??: ???', '  : ???', '??: ???' 
'??: ?  ',      ???', '??: ??     ??: ???',
'??: ???', '??: ???', '??: ???', '??: ???',
'??    ?',                                 
'??  ???', '??:  ??', '??:  ? ', '??: ???',
'??: ? ?', '??: ???', '??: ???', '??: ?    
'  : ???', '??: ?   , '       ', '??: ???',
'??: ???', '??: ???', '??: ???', '??: ? ?' 
'??:             ??', '?   ???', '??: ???',
'??: ???', '??: ???', '??: ???', '??: ?  ',
'? : ???', '??: ?        : ???', '?     ?',
 ??: ???'  '??: ?    

Ryan’s Speakership Demands

Paul Ryan will likely be the next Speaker of the House, following a scramble to find a replacement once Boehner announced his retirement. But to get to that point, Ryan has demanded that:

  1. The whole party support him.
  2. Rule changes to make that support somewhat lasting.
  3. An arrangement for someone else to do some of the fundraising.

The first two points are likely workable. The third is, while laudable and understandable, a load of crap. This is the party that pushed the Citizens United case. The party of the almighty dollar. Those funds aren’t going to raise themselves. They aren’t self-rising. You can try to get by with your vegan speakership without eggs by substituting some vinegar and baking soda, but real cake takes eggs.

And Ryan doesn’t want eggs.

The way that plays out is fairly obvious and a real-world example of a slippery slope. A big-money donor wants Ryan, so the big-money donor gets Ryan, because how are you going to not hand-hold the whales? But then a second-tier pocketbook wants Ryan. What can he do? Pretend that the lesser money does not also spend?

Before you know it, Paul Ryan will be pan-handling in the parking lot, just like every other Speaker in American history.

Of the other two demands, the first is just as silly. “You all have to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. Not just mouth the words!” Ok, Ryan. Whatever you say.

The whole point of electing the speaker is that the vote reflects the feelings. Demanding universal support is something that dictators do. It’s just a terrible optic.

The rule change is the only one that makes sense as a demand. But it’s also the bitterest of the pills he’s asking for. The rule allows the House to demand a change in leadership, and it’s hard to see that changing. Actually, it’s impossible to see that changing, because there will always be some way to accomplish it if enough members want it.

In the ends, Ryan will probably take the job for lack of an alternative. That’s pretty much how the GOP Presidential nomination will also play out. The GOP doesn’t have a unified agenda anymore. They have the party that got by on anger and fear, getting reelected to do basically the establishment’s business, and they have the minority elected on fear and anger, to actually push the fear and anger agenda.

That minority, the Freedom Caucus, are the daughters who actually got the fucking pony, and now they are half-way down the road to deciding having a pony is a lot more trouble than it’s worth, so maybe someone knows a good pony-meat recipe?

They’re trying to decide whether to slaughter it directly, or maybe send it out the barn door, count 60-mississippi, and then chase after it, hunt it down. Give it a sporting chance.