Release: Changing US Demographics Is Worsening Senate's Small State Bias

NDN and the New Policy Institute released the following statement after increased press coverage of what we consider to be an increasingly undemocratic Senate:

"In the last few days national reporters in several major newspapers have been discussing a subject the team at NDN/NPI has recently researched and published – how the changing demography of the country is worsening the “small state bias” of the Senate, and weakening our democracy.  As The New York Times’s Adam Liptak's article "Smaller States find Outsize Clout Growing in Senate" spurred dialogue on Twitter and coverage from other reporters like the Washington Post's Ezra Klein, we wanted to release a refresher on our previous research. 

NDN's Simon Rosenberg and researcher Leslie Ogden studied the subject extensively and have published several pieces, including Ogden's op-ed "Another Reason to Reform the Senate" from April of 2012, and a collection of resources featuring a video presentation of Ogden's research on demographic shifts and Senate's imbalance from a panel titled "Renewing our Democracy." Additionally, Simon has analyzed the political ramifications of this democratic imbalance in his post, "Leaving the Reagan Era Behind" from December 2012 that posits the disparity has paralyzed immigration reform, gun control measures, and gay marriage legislation, among others. In a companion essay written last fall, Simon used the increasingly undemocratic nature of Senate to call for a political reform agenda that would renew our democracy. 

Rosenberg explained that he is "pleased this issue of the fundamentally undemocratic Senate is gaining attention in the press. With population and demographic shifts, the Senate has grown increasingly unrepresentative of the American electorate." As fifty percent of the U.S. population is concentrated in only nine states, these citizens are "inadequately represented in the upper chamber," especially as "the other fifty percent of the population is awarded 82 Senators." 

He also noted that states with more concentrated populations are "generally more diverse" than sparsely populated states, and tend to have younger constituents. Accordingly, this system pulls the Senate to represent not just specific states but disproportionately represent certain demographic groups."