Saturday, August 31, 2013

Figures never lie, but liars often figure

Continuing with our semi-non-indepth look at the U.S. House of Representatives, we now know (or we would if we read the preceding post) that the U.S. contains 435 congressional districts. According to the census taken in 2010, the official population of the United States was 308,745,538. But wait! (as they say in television infomercials) -- that figure includes the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.), which is represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by a 436th member who does not have voting privileges. When the 2010 population of the District of Columbia (601,723) is subtracted from the national total, a new total for our purposes emerges: 308,143,815.

So then an “average” congressional district in the U.S. according to the 2010 census -- obtained simply by dividing 308,143,815 by 435 -- would contain 708,376 people.

However, there is no such thing as an “average” congressional district because the population of the United States is not distributed evenly across the 50 states (that is -- pay attention, you there in the back -- some states have more people than others). Also, the districts do not cross state lines. The most populous congressional district, the entire state of Montana, has 989,415 people. The least populous congressional district, the entire state of Wyoming, has 563,626 people.

Seven states in all have a single congressional district comprising the entire state. They are Wyoming (563,626), Vermont (625,741), North Dakota (672,591), Alaska (710,231), South Dakota (814,180), Delaware (897,934), and Montana (989,415).

Five more small states have only two congressional districts. They are Rhode Island (1,052,567), New Hampshire (1,316,470), Maine (1,328,361), Hawaii (1,360,301), and Idaho (1,567,582). So a current Rhode Island representative represents, on average, 526,283 people; a New Hampshire representative represents, on average, 658,235 people, and so forth.

At the other end of the chart are the most populous states, California (37,253,956 people, 53 congressional districts), Texas (25,145,561 people, 36 congressional districts, New York (19,378,102 people, 27 congressional districts), and Florida (18,801,310 people, 27 congressional districts).

Do the math. The average California congressional district contains 702,904 people; the average Texas congressional district contains 698,487 people; the average New York congressional district contains 717,707 people; and the average Florida congressional district contains 696,344 people.

In between the five single-district states and the four most populous states (which have 143 seats between them in the House of Representatives) are 41 other states with their own calculated “average” congressional district. For example, Georgia, where I live, had 9,687,663 people in 2010 and its number of congressional districts was increased to 14, giving us an “average” Georgia congressional district of 691,975 people.

Isn’t this fascinating?

What do you mean, you don’t think so?

Of course it is.

Because I said so, that’s why.

And I said all of that to say this:

What George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm is true:

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”


Elephant's Child said...

And most of the political animals are convinced that they are much more equal than others.
This is a truly depressing post for me today - our elections are on next weekend and both of our major parties are diving to new depths of inhumanity. Oxygen thieves one and all.

rhymeswithplague said...

Elephant's Child, I'm sorry I depressed you with my post. I will try to be a little more upbeat in the future!