Reapportionment–a better way?

After each census, the number of seats in the US House that each state is entitled to must be recalculated. Rick Hasen’s Election Law Blog contains a pointer to an opinion piece in the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Press that suggests a change in the way this process is done.

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Macomb County, has proposed a fairer and more sensible system for deciding the number of Congress members from each state. […] Ms. Miller’s proposed amendment would change the word “persons” in the 14th Amendment to “citizens.”

The article goes on to say that this would grant Michigan one more seat than it currently has and California six (!) fewer.

Counting only citizens for the sake of determining how many people to have in Congress seems like common sense. Only citizens can vote and enjoy the full rights and privileges the country has to offer.

Well, yes, only citizens vote; however non-citizens pay taxes and receive government services–two reasons that would seem to make them relevant to calculating how much weight a state ought to have in the House of Representatives.

However, there is an alternative solution, and it does not force us to get into a divisive debate about citizenship and representation. It is so simple that it is rather amazing to me that it is rarely discussed:

INCREASE THE SIZE OF THE HOUSE.

It really makes little sense that a state should gain population (citizen or non-citizen) yet lose House seats, as Michigan and other states did after the 2000 census.

We are one of the few democracies in the world that does not periodically adjust the size of its lower (or sole) house. There is nothing set in stone about 435. It is just in federal law. In fact, we used to increase the size of the House periodically as population increased. We could do so again. Look at this graph:

Assembly size

(This is for a forthcoming book on American democracy in comparative perspective; all rights reserved, of course.)

You can see two things here:

1. The US used to keep its House size just below the cube-root of its population (as Rein Taagepera’s model predicts), but has not done so since its population was under 100 million (in 1912!).

2. The US House is one the smallest in the world among established democracies with over around 60 million residents (citizen or otherwise).

So, why not make the House even a little bit bigger? We don’t have to go all the way up to 600 or so (which would still leave us below the cube root) all at once. We could just make long-term adjustments with each subsequent census (say 480 next time, then 500, and so on), thereby not depriving Michigan and other states of existing congressional districts.

Further discussion in subsequent posts:

Increase the size of the House via the “Wyoming Rule” (December 1, 2005; also has several interesting comments from readers)

US House size, continued (December 4, 2005)

See also Steven Taylor’s analysis: An Intriguing Proposal (December 2, 2005)

45 thoughts on “Reapportionment–a better way?

  1. First post – and thanks for dropping by at my site. One idea I’ve seen suggested for the US House is the ‘Wyoming Rule’ – that the standard size for a Congressional district should be the population of the smallest entitled unit, i.e. Wyoming. This would remove some of the bias towards very small states and increase the size of the House – in 2000/2 this would have given a House with 569 members. The California delegation would have 69 members.

  2. Pingback: Fruits and Votes

  3. Cube root might be the theory, but I’m not sure it is sound. To share power between the representatives and the represented, the square root is appropriate.

    If you have a cube root system, I have this sneaking suspicion that you should have two level elections (the first root elects the second root[delegates] who elect the main body).

    Anyway, the reason is simple. Have you ever tried to run a chamber with more than 435 members?

    There is only one larger assembly in the English speaking world (UK Commons). I live in New Hampshire and we are constantly bragging that our House (which has 400) is third largest.

    Your graph would be a lot more effective, in my humble opinion, if you went back as far as the 1790 apportionment.

  4. JS, thanks for the comments. I am not sure I understand the case for square root rather than cube root. The theory of the cube-root law is deductively derived and, as the graph shows, is also a good empirical fit to the data (and other graphs with slightly different data sets also confirm its applicability). So, an alternative theory (such as a square-root law) would have to be superior both deductively and empirically, which apparently would not be the case.

    The deductive reasoning behind the theory is a bit extensive to explain in a blog post, and is best understood with references to diagrams. See Taagepera and Shugart, Seats and Votes (Yale University Press, 1989), pp. 173-83.

    English-speaking or otherwise, the US House is small for the population, while that of the UK is large. As the graph shows, there are several other countries with larger houses (in absolute numbers), including India, France, and Germany. So, while I personally have never tried to run a chamber with more than 435 members, others apparently have managed OK!

    400 for New Hampshire is, of course, really large for the population. I had no idea it was so large. On the other hand, out here in California we have only 80, which is ridiculously small.

    Thanks again for the comments!

  5. I followed the election-methods list for a while. It’s a bit crazy sometimes (some are _very_ attached to their method) but one can learn a lot, and most anyone is willing to answer questions.

    The proof for the square root hypothesis is, I admit, a form of proof that I hate from economics.

    The Laffer Curve is an imaginary Supply Side Economics curve. It says that if taxes are 0%, government “revenue” will be $0. And if taxes are 100%, then government “revenue” will be $0 (for why would anyone lift a shovel for an income if all the income went somewhere else). Ergo, somewhere between 0% and 100% there is a tax rate which maximizes government revenue.

    It’s an amoral argument (for a variety of reasons) and it is also sickening to even _begin_ to think of government as a revenue maximizer, but there it is.

    Now, back to voting.

    In a chamber, if there were only 1 representative for all the people, then the people would have the least possible power over the process. If every citizen was in the legislature, citizen power would be maximized. I believe these statements are as true as the 0% and 100% statements above.

    The leap I made to the point where “the ideal point is the square root” comes from the logic of the decision making itself. Taking the concrete numbers of 100 citizens, if the assembly has 10 members, then each district is 10 citizens. Both the citizen and the representative have the exact same “pull” in their respective arenas.

    And, hence, the power is balanced between them.

    I’m not surprised _at_all_ that cube root matches the record better. I don’t think many people understand politics at all, and that few people like to participate in activities like that (where they are, more often than not, the fool).

    New Hampshire’s system is pretty amazing. My city of 12K has four representatives. I see three or four of them each month at the city Democrat’s meeting. One of them gave me a ticket to the biggest annual Democrat event of the year.

    I just came up from Manhattan (did I mention that?) where we had 8,000,000+ people for about sixty City Council seats.

    Down side of the NH House? It pays $100.

    By the way, and of this I am quite proud, I calculated that the square root of Earth’s population is about 77,000. I wrote software to manage an arbitrarily large assembly.

    It needs a lot more tire kicking, but it basically works.

    I’ve not got enough interest in it, yet, to bring it to the “clinical trial” level yet. Maybe someday I’ll head a committee (I’m on the city Planning Board now) and I’ll just force it on everyone 🙂

  6. And my solution to the above problem is to create a third house, without power, of about 10,000 citizens (less than the 17,000 square root, but within the constitutional limit of 1 rep/30,000). If you are a Solonic Republican (did you realize Solon had a reputation for giving pretty names to awful things?) you might like the named United States Assembly.

    Even though they don’t have power, since the division of power between the States and the Feds is (ostensibly) distinct, it will give citizens a grounding in Federal legal matters. It always seems ironic to me that a person who was a Governor is all of a sudden, with no practical experience at all, going to run a foreign policy establishment. The same could be said of the move from State House to Federal Congress.

  7. Pingback: Fruits and Votes

  8. Pingback: Fruits and Votes

  9. A transitional rule could be to add one seat for the most underrepresented state, repeating so long as doing so does not exceed some preset limit nor increase the disparity between the most underrepresented and the most overrepresented.

    Or, if Congress were to confine its activities to Article I Section 8, maybe the job would be small enough for 435 or even fewer to handle.

  10. The logic for the cube root might be as follows:

    Assume a society of 27,000,000 citizens and 300 national legislators.

    Each legislator is answerable to about 300 party activists and political insiders.

    And about one in every 300 citizens is a party activist or political insider (involved in actively selecting new candidates, that is, and “compiling” the ballot: the other 299 turn out and vote on election day, whether primary or general, but only choose among the half-dozen or so leading candidates or tickets already on the ballot).

    300 x 300 x 300 = 27,000,000.

    300 is probably the maximum number of names you can keep in your Rolodex and maintain meaningful personal contacts with, ie, enough to strike deals and bargains that will be adhered to (you’re in a “village”, not dealing with strangers).

    Federalism allows an extra layer and division of work, but even then you cann have States/ Provinces (California, Uttar Pradesh) and nations (India) that just get too damn big.

    This puts another spin on the view, expressed by such democracy sympathisers as Daniel Bell, that PR of China at 1,300,000,000 people is just too big for democracy. It seems that a polity as populous as China or India would need a higher-than-the-Western-norm degree of repression to avoid anarchy – so China has repression without (as much) anarchy, India has anarchy without (as much) repression. You can’t rely solely on civic feelings and good neighborliness to ensure compliance when the fellow citizens who are outvoting you, or siphoning away your water, are more distant and different than many foreign countries.

    But then that’s a good argument for breaking up huge mega-nations into smaller nations, rather than enlarging the legislature until it reaches George Lucasian proportions.

  11. Remember too that the size of the US House indirectly affects the Electoral College. Gore would have won in 2000, Florida aside, if there had been 500 or 600 CongressReps instead of only 435.

    As an Australian, I find it ironic that Australia’s Constitution strictly caps the size of the two Houses (the “nexus ratio”) at two to one, when this does not affect the balance of political power except at a joint sitting on a disputed bill following a double dissolution. There has been exactly one such joint sitting held, and exactly four Acts passed thereat, over the objections of a majority of Senators, in 106 years since the Constitution began operating.

    Yet, in the USA – where the ratio between houses can directly affect who controls the presidency and the executive branch every four years, via the College – the Constitution imposes no meaningful cap. (The “max 1 per 30,000 people” limit, is not meaningful, since no one really wants 1,000 Reps!).

    At least Switzerland and South AAfrica – the only other democracies I know where the combined numbers in both houses (ie, as distinct from the lower house alone, or a direct election) determine the executive and/or Cabinet – fixes the size of the Lower house as well as the Upper in the Constitution.

    If I were Madison, I would have de-linked the number of “population-based” Electors from the number of Reps and made it something more like “eight times the number of States, plus 35” so the ratio of president-electing power is beyond legislative fiddling (and the total is always odd).

    Having said that, of course allocation among electorates per capita and/or per Statum is only one part of the equation. The system used within each district makes a big difference. Thus, a lot of the time the advantage (on paper) of less-populous States having more seats than strict population proportionality warrants, in the US Electoral College or the Australian joint sitting, because they have equal numbers of Senators, is nullified by the fact that the Electors (USA) or House of Reps members (Aust) are chosen by a winner-take-all system, so that (barring freak elections like 1993 or 2000) whoever wins the most popular votes, almost always wins a majority in the EC/ JS also.

  12. By the way, if y’all can bear one more Australian comparison… here, House of Reps seats are reapportioned [*]among States based on population (because the Constitution, drafted in the late 1890s when voting was voluntary, requires it) – but seats are then redistricted[*] within each State based on numbers of enrolled voters. Because enrollment and voting are compulsory here, “all enrolled voters” diverges less from “the entire population” (and a fortiori from “all citizens”) than the two figures would in the USA or most other democracies.

    The Whitlam Labor Govt tried to make intra-State redistricting [*] population-based as well, but the Senate blocked it and the successor Fraser Liberal Govt did not introduce that particular change (unlike other changes, such as tightening the allowable variation among Reps districts from 20% to 10%, where the urban-based Liberals were happy to pick up Labor’s reforms, even if their rural-based Country/ National coalition partners didn’t).

  13. [*] Footnote: I note with great amusement that The Simpsons – that great cultural barometer of our age – presented a TV debate on the difference between “reapportionment” and “redistricting” as the topic that would send Bart and Lisa screaming to change channels, and “[Galactic] Senate redistricting” as the eponymous “Gathering Shadow” that made “Cosmic Wars: Episode 1” suuch a snoorze-a-rama.

    (Just to bring the topic back to George Lucas again…)

  14. Thanks, Alan, I stand corrected. Maybe I am thinking of the 1994 provisional constitution, not the 1996 one (as indicated by the fact I am thinking “Senate” rather than “Council of the Provinces”).

  15. Am I correct in concluding that the post-1997 Council of the Provinces replaces the “Australian rule” (Senators vote individually) with the “German Bundesrat rule” (each federal region’s delegation of Councillors must vote as a bloc)?

  16. I actually believe the Australian’s and the Irish have the best electoral system in the world. I’m glad to see ranked-choice voting catching on in America. San Francisco has started using it. May it catch on like wildfire in the U.S.

    I would use the a model that brings ranked-choice voting (a.k.a. “preferential voting”) directly to America and eliminate the insipid and antiquated electoral college entirely.

    I do think the ratio of citizen to legislator is ridiculously large, but the answer to me lies in decentralizing power to the states and local government where those ratios are smaller. Even with that, I’d establish a House of Representatives with 555 members, with each state electing a minimul of 3 instead of 1. Congressional Districts would be between 3 and 5 members each with as equal ratios as possible throughout the country, similar to the Irish model.

    The Senate would remain the same with 2 per state, elected with ranked-choice similar to the Australian lower house.

    The President would be directly by national popular vote using the same ranked-choice vote that Ireland uses to directly elect its President.

    The Civil War is over. The Electoral College should go. It’s not about “state power” anymore or protecting the interests of “slave” states. It’s about empowering citizens. Increasing the size of the House to 555 and raising the minimum per state to 3 is adequate compensation for eliminating the Electoral College. 555 members is still a workable size legislature.

    Now enacting any change, of course, is the hard part. 🙂

    I am more frustrated and worried about California’s dangerously high ratio of population to legislator in its lower house. I would like to see this situation rectified first.

  17. Pingback: Fruits and Votes

  18. Tom Round asked in 2007:

    “Am I correct in concluding that the post-1997 Council of the Provinces replaces the “Australian rule” (Senators vote individually) with the “German Bundesrat rule” (each federal region’s delegation of Councillors must vote as a bloc)?”

    I don’t know if Tom already knows the answer, but in the current South African constitution, there are some questions on which delegates to the Council of Provinces vote individually, and others on which delegates vote as provincial blocs. In the latter, each province has one vote on the Council. In the former, limited mainly to exclusively national questions, each delegate has one vote.

  19. Thanks, Ren.

    Re size of US House… it occurred to me this week that perhaps the unusually small size of the US HR is partly compensated by the fact that, every four years, the major parties hold conventions of 2-4,000 delegates. More elective offices as prizes to share around.

    It’s hard to compare across nations – not only is the number of seats only indirectly related to population (so Malta, with 300,000 people, has 65 MPs, while Germany, with 80 million, has 650+), but what do you compare? National lower house only? All elective national legislators (which makes the US/UK ratio 535/660 rather than 435/660)? All members of consitutionally sovereign/ entrenched legislatures? (so you would include members of US State legislatures but not the Scots or Welsh Assemblies?) Like I said, it’s apples and oranges (to introduce a possibly inappropriate “fruit” metaphor into the study of comparative political institutions).

  20. Pingback: Fruits and Votes

  21. There is a way that both the Wyoming Rule and the the Cube Rule can work together. The Wyoming Rule is prone to large dramatic shifts if there are large dramatic shifts in population. Let us say that California continues to grow at a rate that outpaces much of the rest of the country. On top of that there is a huge disaster in Wyoming that prompts the permanent evacuation of most of the residents of the state (think “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”). When Wyoming’s population plummets the number of reps in the house will soar! To ensure that the house doesn’t increase to fast too quickly we can use the Cube Root rule as a back stop and write in that the number of reps, per the Wyoming Rule, can never exceed that of the Cube Root rule.

  22. Pingback: The Irish Politics Forum

  23. @24

    And in 10 years or 20 years when population shifts mean that the new states no longer have equal populations?

  24. @24, I am really looking forward to this proposal being adopted in general and then watching politicians trying to gerrymander the new states to their liking. Looking forward in the sense that if they ever do this, democracy would be dead.

    The real problem isn’t necessarily the lack of a Wyoming Rule. It is the existence of the Electoral College and the cap of 435 House seats that is the problem. If they get rid of the Electoral College and then say give each state one seat and then fairly distribute say 400 more (or more, which would be better), the little bit of remaining malapportionment needed to give Wyoming a seat wouldn’t be so bad in my eyes.

    But then again if you really asked me, single member districts are a much larger problem than unevenly sized districts.

  25. Mark, actually states have been gerrymandered in the past. Its why there are two Dakotas. The history of the creation of the states of Maine and Nevada are other good examples.

  26. It’s one thing for state gerrymandering to happen once a century or so. Once a decade would be completely different and profoundly destabilising.

  27. @ 28, Well said. I was going to write something similar but could not make it as brief and eloquent as yours.

    When you get down to it, Congress can do pretty much whatever it wants with territories. Yes Dakota shouldn’t have been divided, but it isn’t like either state has its borders altered during redistricting periods.

    The admission of Maine was the combination of a long desire for Maine to separate from Massachusetts and a need for balance between slave and free states. Its admission was part of a bipartisan compromise between North and South. No one woke up one day and decided that the North needed extra free states a la Tom Delay and Texas.

  28. I am suddenly reminded of what happened in (West) Germany after World War II. One of the transitional provisions in the Basic Law was to provide for a referendum to unify three small states into what is now Baden-Wurttemberg. And there were detailed provisions that dealt with reorganizing state boundaries.

  29. Reorganising state boundaries is not a bad thing. India has more wide-ranging provisions for state reorganisations and has enacted massive changes to state borders since Independence. India is in the process of creating a twenty-ninth state, Telangana, at the moment. Brazil creates new states from time to time.

    The three countries do not reorganise states at frequent intervals to ensure equality of population.

    However, if your object is to always have states of equal population, you are going to have to redistribute them at regular intervals. That is going to have to be, as in Brazil, Germany and India, a federal process and (apart from the inevitable cries of ‘We wuz robbed!’) it is going to be massively dislocating for citizens who find themselves in different legal and fiscal systems at regular intervals.

    The advantages claimed in the linked article are that the various undemocratic archaisms of the US constitution can all happily be retained under the proposal. The article does not mention you would need a federal restating agency or law every 10 years or so nor does it address how this process could be done fairly or transparently.

    Really, it seems to me that it would be easier and fairer just to get rid of the undemocratic archaisms.

    • Brazil’s military created new states when it ruled Brazil. There was one new state created by the elected constituent assembly in 1988.

      We could add Nigeria to list of federations that were reconstructed under an authoritarian regime. Otherwise, I think India may be unique in having periodic processes of state reorganization under democratic regimes.

      (Germany’s case was a one-off, early in the post-war years, wasn’t it?)

      One thing is for sure: the splitting of states in Brazil had nothing to do with any ambition to make populations more equal. Quite the contrary, as the new states were all small and did not split off from the biggest ones, yet the constitution grants equal representation in the Senate and over-representation of smaller states in the House.

      In India, to the extent that large states get carved up (which has often been the case, and will be with Telangana), I suppose we could say there has been some degree of progress towards equalization, though I don’t think we can say that’s been the intent. It matters less anyway, as–like Germany–the states do not have equal representation in the second chamber or (much) malapportionment in the first.

      I recommend the comparative work on federalism by Alfred Stepan. India and Nigeria belong to his category of “holding together” federalism, where the center has authority to create new states to head off separatist pressures. Most other federations are, according to Stepan, “coming together” by which he means the states, at least in constitutional principle, are considered prior to the federation and therefore not subject to division without their consent.

  30. Australia must be unusual among federations for having almost zero change to the number and boundaries of its States in 112 years. The only alterations I can think of are:

    (a) NSW surrendering the land around Canberra to the Feds to form the seat of govt (envisaged in the Constitution – SoG must be land from NSW, 100 m square and, interestingly, at least 100 miles from Sydney!)

    (b) South Aust surrendering the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth in 1911. I don’t think the NT was ever part of that State – it must be unusual for a State within a federation (as distinct from the national govt) to administer a Territory.

    (c) The border between Qld and Papua New Guinea being adjusted (against the Qld Premier’s will) by agreement of the two national govts in 1975.

  31. Broken Hill has occasionally agitated for inclusion in South Australia. After all its roughly 1000 k to Sydney and 400 to Adelaide and the town uses Central Australian time, unlike the rest of the state. I have a surprising number of friends who have never been to the capital of their own state and who have a habit of talking about the ‘eastern states’ vaguely as if it were a foreign country. The position of NSW has always been ‘You can have the town, but we keep the mineral revenues’.

    Weirdly the Unincorporated Far West, which surrounds Broken Hill on all sides, uses Eastern Australian time. Equally weirdly, quite a lot of state and federal laws are expressed not to extend to Broken Hill.

    I think there is an excellent case for a state of interior Australia (the state of Uluru perhaps?) with borders drawn along an isohyet or perhaps drainage basins.

  32. Tom @32
    Remember that various British Dominions (when not yet independent)held League of Nations Mandates in their own rights.
    Queensland “colonised” parts of what is now PNG, didn’t it?

  33. @34

    Queensland purported to annex the southern half of what is now PNG in 1888, although on behalf of the empire, not the colony. After a period of considerable confusion the British disavowed the Queensland annexation, declared a protectorate and then annexed the area themselves as British New Guinea. Wilhelmine Germany held the northern half until the end of WWI. BNG was transferred to Australia in 1902 and German New Guinea was handed to Australia as a League mandate by the Treaty of Versailles. The Australian territory and the Mandated territory were not actually unified until after WWII.

    Queensland never actually administered any part of PNG and, in any case, the Mandate system dates from the League of Nations which was not created until 1919,long after Queensland had gone from colony to state.

    The Menzies government made unsuccessful approaches to the Dutch to buy the western half of the island of New Guinea. The Dutch retained the area as Dutch New Guinea after Indonesian independence until they surrendered it to Indonesia in 1969. It is now the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua although there is considerable agitation for independence or union with PNG.

    There were also a couple of incidents where the Cape Colony or Natal attempted annexations in South Africa only to have them disavowed by the Brits, although again the Brits usually ended up taking the territory. I do not know if there are any similar cases from New Zealand or Canadian history.

  34. And since I have approval for local colour, from early in the last century until the 1980s Broken Hill was effectively ruled by a union federation called the Barrier Industrial Council.

    Some time in the 1930s there was a brief conservative government in New South Wales who announced they were sending out a new police chief to get the Broken Hill unions under control. The railway line was still being built, and the railhead was about 20 k east of town.

    The new police chief arrives and is surprised to find a huge crowd, several bands, the mayor, the city council, the unions and everyone else. A large party follows. About midnight the inspector is dancing with the mayor’s wife and expresses his surprise at getting such a warm welcome.

    The mayor’s wife explains this is not a welcoming party, it’s a farewell. Then everyone gets back in their cars and drives off across the desert leaving the policeman alone on the platform.

    He catches the train back to Sydney the next day. It’s an interesting strategy for asserting local autonomy.

  35. Various NZ colonial towns spawned further settlements (often they started as islands in a sea of Maori/hostile terrain, connected by sea travel). I think when there was an effective single-Colony administration, it took over the earlier Provincial arrangements. From memory, things were interesting in the early days of the Buller (West Coast of South Island) gold rush, as it was easier to get supplies from the more established settlements in Australia than the provincial seat in Christchurch. Then Arthur’s Pass (through the Southern Alps) was discovered, changing the travel times.

  36. @10

    There are lots of historical precedents for really big legislatures.

    The Athenian assembly regularly drew 6000 or more and, contrary to Madison and his band of ochlophobes, actually functioned in an orderly way, including secret ballots and observance of a distinction between nomoi, or standing laws, and psephismata or case by case decrees. I’d introduce probouleumata at this stage but I’d be getting carried away.

    The assembly only acted psephismatically (sorry). Nomoi could be changed only by a huge jury convened for the purpose with careful safeguards built in.

    The Venetian great council ran to 1200, although again there were safeguards to ensure orderly decision-making.

    The US could not have a cube root house of representatives with its current procedures, but they are not the only rules of procedure known to humankind.

  37. By my calcualtion (which is therefore inherently unreliable) a Chinese cube root assembly would have 1104 deputies. That is not a Lucasian figure and is less than the Athenian ekklesia or the Venetian great council. The Venetian assembly actually peaked at more than 2400 in the 1500s.

    China’s current ritual legislature, the national people’s congress has 2987 deputies. A cube root functional legislature would be considerably smaller.

    The cube root figure for India is 1178.

    In India the Lok Sabha has 555 deputies, so there’d be an increase but by no means an unmanagable one.

  38. In a refinement of the cube root rule, Taagepera and Shugart (1989) suggest the optimal size is the cube root of the “active” population. This can be defined as those who are adult, literate citizens. In more developed countries, it does not make a large difference in the estimate. In developing countries it can.

    And a lot of countries are within 1/2 to twice the cube-root estimate, anyway. It is not as i we expect perfect conformity. The graph above shows these ranges, and thus one can see the true outliers. Those include, yes, USA and India. Australia, too. And UK, in the other direction. The graph is not adjusted for “active” population.

  39. I think a larger House with FPTP and without redistricting reform would simply take the current dysfunction and multiply it. It would be even easier for fringe candidates to win party primaries in safe seats, as they’d need to motivate even fewer supporters to win. I can’t imagine it working without Westminster-style party discipline (as today’s vote showed, obviously imperfect, but far stronger than what we have here, where the Republican caucus dictates what the Speaker may do and not the other way around), which I don’t think would be acceptable to most Americans.

    It’s possible that the introduction of MMP or list-PR would bring stronger party discipline. Is there any research on whether the introduction of or change to a party list to or from closed to open has any impact on party discipline? I know New Zealand already had pretty strong discipline to begin with, so I don’t know if MMP made much difference there.

    I think the biggest change that should be considered is introducing a national redistricting commission to draw districts; ideally, this would be a civil-servant driven process rather than political appointees. There’s a very good reason why Iowa consistently has competitive Congressional races in all or almost all of its districts (though it certainly helps that it’s an evenly-divided state with a small number of districts to apportion).

  40. Pingback: Operation Overlord: Reforming the House of Lords | Jack Beecher

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s