Apportionment matters: Fair representation in the US house and electoral college

Brian J. Gaines, Jeffery A. Jenkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The 2000 presidential election made various electoral institutionsfrom ballot format to voting mechanismssuddenly prominent in public debate. One institution that garnered little attention, but nonetheless affected the outcome, was apportionment. A few commentators, looking ahead to 2004, noticed that Bush would have won more comfortably had the apportionment based on the 2000 census already been in place for the 2000 election. Little attention, however, was paid to the method by which 1990 census data were used to generate the 1992-2000 apportionment, even though there are many ways to perform that allocation, the United States has used different methods over its history, and the precise algorithm turned out, in this instance, to matter. More generally, previous discussions of apportionment methods have neglected the point that allocation to states of US House seats simultaneously determines Electoral College weights. Since the Electoral College has built-in biases favoring small states, an apportionment method that partially offsets this bias might be justifiable. We revisit some criteria by which one might prefer one apportionment rule to another, in light of this double duty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)849-857
Number of pages9
JournalPerspectives on Politics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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