Upside-Down Majority in the House of Representatives
There is an interesting piece in The New Yorker this week explaining that the Republicans retained their majority in the House this year even though Democrats got around 1 million more votes in House races overall. This has happened a few times before (in 1996, for instance) and could be explained by a few factors. One is gerrymandering. Another is the fact that there are just more lopsided Democratic districts due to geography.
One explanation that is not mentioned in the article, though, is the fact that the House is malapportioned. (I posted about this two years ago.) The Constitution’s requirement that each state get at least one House member creates a distortion, because if we used a strict proportional formula some states (say, Vermont or Wyoming) really deserve less than 1. Likewise, the fact that each state must have a round number of members is artificial.
For example, California has 66 times more people than Wyoming. (37.25 million vs. 563,000). But California has only 53 times as many House members (53 vs. 1). There is nothing that can be done about this, because the courts have held that interstate malapportionment is not subject to the rule of Reynolds v. Sims. How much did this contribute to the 2012 result? Get Nate Silver on the job!