Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: Doing the Math

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Doing the Math

We were speaking of the Senate last night, and that reminded me that Mitch McConnell is all of a sudden worried about everybody getting equal representation. It's amazing what having one's minority status shrink even further can do to one. But he said something to George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that didn't quite sit right with me:

Look, I think everyone knows that half the American public is represented by a Republican senator.

Wait a minute. Republicans often win in large, sparsely populated states, like Wyoming or Idaho. Democrats win in hugely populated places like California and New York. That can't be true, can it?

Via Yglesias, I found James Surowiecki of The New Yorker, who claimed that, after doing "a quick-and-dirty calculation," Republicans senators represented about 37 percent of the public. Somehow, though, that didn't quite sound right, either. Those who know me realize that, in the right mood, I can be a bit of a stickler in these kinds of situations. So I did the math myself, just to see what I came up with.

As much as it pains me to say so, McConnell is technically correct. Just over 50 percent of the population is represented by one or two Republican senators (24.5 are represented by two Republicans and 25.8 are represented by a Republican and a Democrat). Of course, because everyone is represented by two senators, the percentages don't neatly add up to 100 percent. On the Democratic side, 75.3 percent of Americans are represented by at least one Democratic senator. I gave you the number of people represented by both a Democrat and a Republican, but that leaves 49.5 percent of the population who are represented only by Democratic senators.

So I guess that Mitch McConnell can continue to make his claim, but he next time he does, Harry Reid should point out that Democrats represent 3 out of 4 Americans.


Post a Comment

<< Home