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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.

Understanding the Occupation

Since its inception, the Occupy movement has been ridiculed and drawn sideways dog heads from the establishment. That’s kind of cute, in that it shows exactly how baffled the establishment is, which is exactly why the Occupy movement exists!

Since its inception, the Occupy movement has been ridiculed and drawn sideways dog heads from the establishment. That’s kind of cute, in that it shows exactly how baffled the establishment is, which is exactly why the Occupy movement exists! The Occupy movement represents the fact that the establishment is completely out of touch with reality, so I guess it’s acceptable and expected that this is the reaction.

The Why

I will now quote the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:

WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. […]

Now, one piece at a time, of what I think are the most essential parts there:

[…] That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men […]

Why government exists. To allow an orderly state in which we can live without constantly having to assert our rights through violence.

[… Governments] deriv[e] their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed […]

How government exists. It is by the agreement of the people that allows the government to exist, and the reason above is why the consent is given.

[…] that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it […]

Follows logically from [1] and [2] above. Given the goal, and the method, if the method is not moving toward the goal, it should be improved or replaced with one which will.

[…] to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. […]

Expands on [3]. The manner of choosing the replacement or the improvements should be according to reason.

This is why the Occupy movement exists. The government is hampering the goals that are the impetus for its very formation and existence. It must either be reformed or replaced. The old guard is unable to grasp this.

What they want, of course, is what they’ve always had. They want Occupy to step up to the microphone and say, “we want an end to the war,” which lets the establishment drag their feet, beat their chests, and blow their noses, then end the war and carry on with the old guard way of doing things.

They want something they can sell back to Occupy.

That’s worked in the past. I’ll claim that every major political struggle in the USA has actually been equivalent to Occupy, but that every one so far has been bought out by the establishment, with the possible exception of the founding of this country.

The How

The case I’ve made here is the motivation for Occupy, and it points to what is truly desired. These protests represent a dire call and strong desire to see the establishment reformed into a useful institution. The movement has no specific demands, because it’s not about specific changes, but general changes that restore the power to the people to participate. To know that their voices count, even if their exact outcomes aren’t the ones that are implemented.

Let’s take an example, briefly, with the social programs. These need to be changed for a variety of reasons, including costs. Those that oppose changes don’t actually. They oppose destroying these programs. They don’t want a vacuum to replace them, or a corrupt system that is even more dysfunctional. But they really don’t oppose changes that strengthen them while leaving the basic benefits intact.

The list is very long, though. Improving environmental protection, internalizing market externalities, improving education, improving the culture of work/life balance, improving regulation in general, improving contracting processes, and many more.

The solution is much simpler. There are two basic problems with our government:

  • Lack of populist representation in the legislature
  • Lack of scientific process in producing and executing legislation

The House of Representatives

In the first case, the Senate bestows equal representation per state, while the House of Representatives is supposed to provide representation proportional to the population of the country.

The original twelve amendments proposed in what became the Bill of Rights included as its first proposed amendment the rule that the House of Representative would increase in membership in proportion to the size of the population. That would have protected the purpose of that body.

Without it, that body has become a second Senate.

To wit:

Wikipedia: Bar Graph of US House Apportionment

Since 1911 the number of Representatives has remained constant, but the population of the United States has roughly tripled over that time (Wikipedia: Demographics of the United States shows that the population in 1910 was around 98 million, and in 2010 it was 308 million). That has diluted the value of your representation in the Congress, which means there’s less and less reason for your representation to care what you think.

They are your representative in the collective governance of our country, and when they don’t have to care about you, the government is broken. That’s their purpose for their position to exist: to represent your interests.

Science in Government

There are a variety of fields that use scientific principles to improve outcomes. The field of accounting, when practiced properly. The military. Actual scientific inquiry and research. Business, to some extent.

The techniques in question are meant to preclude corruption and bias and error. They are things like separating the power that people have, so that one man can’t turn and lose a war for us all. They are things like double-blind experiments, to prevent bias or error.

Our government even has some of this built in. The three branches represent an example of separation of duties/powers. The FDA does require some amount of double-blindness in drug testing. Many of the other scientific parts of the executive branch use these techniques, too.

But our legislature does not, and our contracting processes do not. The bidding process know which company is bidding, and political favors can be used. The SuperCommittee didn’t put out their proposals, get them ranked, and then vote based on the outcomes. Likewise, they didn’t separate the pieces of proposals, and take a closed ballot to decide which provisions were live options, then form those into a proposal for evaluation by the CBO.

Kids in school learn about the government, they learn about the lauded Separation of Powers. It escapes me (but apparently not the establishment) that this good idea, which, I reiterate, is praised and learned in school, is not properly expanded to its maximum usefulness throughout our government.


I don’t think my ideas here are particularly radical. But I don’t think they’ll be implemented anytime soon. I hope they will be. I don’t think our government is a bad idea, I just think we have neglected the good parts.

Maybe someone needs to write a short book about our government akin to Douglas Crockford’s JavaScript: The Good Parts. There are some good ideas, they just haven’t been taken to their logical conclusion. And, as in the case of the apportionment of the House, some of them have been torn down.

The establishment doesn’t get it. Big surprise. If they got it, Occupy wouldn’t exist. Take that to your bank, withdraw your money, and put it in the vault of someone that gets it.