December 4, 2018

Why the rural vote is so important

City Lab - As currently constructed, our electoral process systematically favors the preferences of rural and exurban voters. To move forward with its agenda, any urban-suburban political coalition must recognize this stark reality and decide how best to respond: fight for change, or work within it.

As has often been noted, the equal representation of states in the Senate, regardless of population, systematically favors smaller and more rural states. Wyoming’s 580,000 people get the same two senators as California’s 39.5 million; in other words, a resident of Wyoming has 68 times the Senate voting strength of a Californian. Of course, Texas reminds us that not all populous states are blue and Bernie Sanders’s Vermont (population 624,000) underscores that not all small states are red. But cumulatively, the Senate’s disproportionality favors rural voters who tend to vote for conservative politicians.

The second major factor is subtler and rarely noted, but still important: Our prevailing method of allocating legislative seats on the basis of geographical districts—as opposed to a party’s share of the statewide or national vote (proportional representation)—inherently favors rural voters.

No comments: