don’t tread on my statehood dreams

"Taxation Without Representation" license plate on Presidential Limo

In case you’ve missed the news of of rural Northern Colorado, a number of counties there wish to secede from the state because those darn city slickers in Denver just don’t listen to their concerns. Although the chances are nearly impossible since it would require an amendment to the Colorado constitution and approval of Congress, nothing has deterred them yet.

One of the leaders of the movement, however, Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway made a much more plausible case: admit the new state of “Northern Colorado” along with another state, either Puerto Rico or Washington, D.C. As some of you may or may not know (though I’ve mentioned before), residents of the District of Columbia do not have representation in Congress. In other words, they have taxation without representation.

The idea is pretty clear: admit one Republican-leaning state and one Democratic-leaning state. The action would have precedent: the Missouri Compromise admitted Maine and Missouri together in order to maintain the balance of free and slave states.

I was curious what the addition of D.C. and Northern Colorado would do to state Congressional apportionment if Congress maintained the current 435 seats in the House (the Senate would likely add two Republican Senators and two Democratic Senators, keeping the current balance, though breaking a filibuster would be even slightly harder because 63 votes — or 60.6% of the Senate — would be required rather than the current 60). I wrote a Stata script to implement the “Amazing Apportionment Machine.”

Northern Colorado and DC would each only have one Representative being the smallest and third smallest states in the new United States of America (Wyoming would be in between).
Texas and Minnesota would each lose a Representative in Congress, quite possibly Michelle Bachmann’s seat. This would mean each Texan Representative would represent 19,957 more people than they currently do. Minnesotan Representatives would each represent 94,713 more people.

Ironically, Northern Colorado secession would increase the representation of the city-slicker Denver Democrats that they despise. Colorado would not lose any seats, but would represent 335,477 fewer people, meaning each (Southern?) Colorado Representative would represent 47,925 fewer Coloradoans each. At one representative for each 670,531 residents, however, Coloradoans will be approximately half as represented as their secessionist compatriots to the north, whose one Representative would represent the 335,477 of Weld, Morgan, Logan, Sedgwick, Phillips, Washington, Yuma, Kit Carson, and Cheyenne Counties.

Incidentally, Nate Silver would have to change the name of his blog to fivethirtynine.com. The Electoral College would, I presume, also gain a member. This would be the net result of losing three seats since the District currently has three Electors despite not being a state and gaining four seats, one for each of the new Senators from North Colorado and DC. In 2012, Obama would have won 331 electoral votes to Romney’s 208 (61.4%) rather than 332 to 206 (61.7%).

Okay, enough playing political scientist. Now back to writing syllabi for the semester that starts Monday (gulp!).

7 Comments

  1. Posted August 21, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    An amusing idea! I think there’s precedent more recently: Alaska and Hawaii were admitted together, I believe, in part to maintain Senate balance.

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    • Posted August 22, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      yes, you are right — I forgot about that compromise.

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  2. Posted August 21, 2013 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    OH! Oh! Now do if Texas secedes altogether!

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    • Posted August 21, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      Tina — These would be the changes if Texas seceded and Congress retained 435 Representatives. The number of additional seats for each state would be the following with the current number of reps in parentheses.

      Four more: California (53)
      Three more: New York (27)
      Two more: Florida (27), Illinois (18), Ohio (16), North Carolina (13)
      One more: Pennsylvania (18), Michigan (14), Georgia (14), New Jersey (12), Virgina (11), Massachusetts (9), Indiana (9), Arizona (9), Tennessee (9) Missouri (8), Maryland (8), Wisconsin (8), Louisiana (6), Kentucky (6), Oregon (5), Oklahoma (5), Connecticut (5), Iowa (4), Mississippi (4), Arkansas (4), Montona (1)

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      • Posted August 21, 2013 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

        That is so cool. Thank you so much!

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  3. Posted August 22, 2013 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    there was an ongoing conversation about this when i lived in the pacific northwest – splitting oregon & washington vertically (geographically) rather than horizontally as they are now, would produce a liberal coastal state and a conservative rural/farming state.

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    • Posted August 22, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      that’s really interesting — I had not heard that! I lived, when I was really young, in Eastern Washington. I think that it is telling that I have never been back.

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