November 8th, 2018

the math

A meme that seemingly has been going around in the past few days is to object to the Senate election outcomes as "undemocratic" because they don't reflect the "popular vote." There are things to be said about this in terms of Constitutional law and political philosophy, but I won't discuss that here. I just want to look at the arithmetic.

The figure I've seen cited is that 55% of the "popular vote" went to Democrats. There were 35 Senate seats in play. Now, 35 x 55% = 19.25, which rounds to 19. As of when I write this, Democrats have taken 23 seats, and two remain undecided. So in terms of the "popular vote," Democrats have about four more seats than they're entitled to. I would be interested to see which Democrats are prepared to cede the two undetermined races to the Republicans, and which four of the Senate seats they won they're prepared to surrender, for the sake of democracy. Clearly the Republicans are underrepresented in proportion to the "popular vote"; they got only 10-12 seats, which is a lot less than 45%.