bookmark_borderWhat’s Your Relative Voice?

Andrea Seabrook presented the first episode of her new podcast, DecodeDC, today. (You should also check out her blog of the same name.) She explored how the U.S. House of Representatives got to have 435 members and why it has been that size since 1910. It is well worth a listen even if you aren’t interested in the wonky underpinnings of How Stuff Gets Done.

What she didn’t get into and that I find fascinating is how the number of representatives changes the relative political power of individual citizens. In other words, how does the Connecticut Compromise¬†allocate political influence? And what is the impact of that allocation?

I started plotting out the numbers this afternoon, plugging 2010 U.S. Census population data by state into a a spreadsheet, along with the total number of Representatives and Senators from each state. I still need to adjust my model to account for the differences between Senators and Representatives, and I need to decide if I should break things out by individual congressional district (I’m leaning toward “no” because each citizen in a state will have the same score across all intrastate congressional districts. I’m also making the decision to stick with a pure numbers analysis and am disregarding¬†many of the things that make Congress “tick,” including such things as committee assignments, which party is in power, seniority, and the clout of individual members.

In a sense, I’m rehashing the debate that led to the Connecticutt Compromise, but I believe it is still relevant. We live in a Republic after all, not a Democracy, and we should each be aware of what our relative political influence is. I hope to have a tentative chart by the end of the weekend.

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