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Tuesday 09 January 2001

Rates of Representation

With the release of figures from the 2000 census, the figures presented on the main campaign finance page have changed. Here is a summary:

1990 2000 Change
National Population 249,022,783 281,424,177 32,401,394
Average representation 572,466 646,952 74,485

Left out of this chart, because it’s so obvious, is the fact that the size of the House of Representatives stayed the same, even though the United States has over 32 million more people. Each member of the House of Representatives is now representing, on average, about 75,000 more people.

Basically, what happens every ten years is that some states lose seats in Congress, and others gain them. This year, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin lost seats in Congress, even though they all gained in population.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, and Texas gained those seats.

Nevertheless, all of the states have worse rates of representation now than they did in 1990, even the states that gained seats this year. Here are some selected rates of representation, just for fun:

Citizens per Representative 1990 Citizens per Representative 2000 Change
Wyoming 495304 455975 +39329
Montana 905316 803655 +101661
North Dakota 643756 641364 +2392
Mississippi 713231 517288 +195943

Allow me to explain those figures a little bit. In Wyoming, there is now one representative for every 495,000 people — the best rate of representation in the United States. In Montana, there is one rep for every 905,000 people — the worst rate.

North Dakota did the best this year; the North Dakota Congressman (there is only one) will now be representing only 2,400 more people than he did in 1990. But poor Mississippi — it really is poor, most of it — bears the brunt. Each Congressman there (there are four now, used to be five) will now start representing almost another 200,000 people.

[back to main campaign finance rant]

(I should point out that the population figures here are what the Census bureau calls "apportionment population", which is a bit different from what they consider to be the actual population of the United States. The figures on the other page are CIA estimates of the "population" — it’s not more precisely defined — as of mid-2000; the Census figures from 1 April in each year.)

Posted by tino at 15:28 9.01.01
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