While many defend the electoral college for protecting the interests of small and rural states, ThinkProgress columnist Ian Millhiser notes that, in many cases, huge swathes of unpopulated land were made into states to give political parties an advantage in maintaining power in both the White House and Congress.
“The history of the American statehood process is the history of political factions selectively admitting new states in order to bolster their own fortunes and harm those of their opponents,” Millhiser wrote. “The American West, with its wasteland of states with two senators and approximately zero residents, was shaped by this brand of constitutional hardball. And if Democrats do not embrace it today, they risk being doomed to the political abyss.”
According to a University of Virginia analysis, approximately 50 percent of the United States population will live in eight states by 2040. This gives 16 senators voicing the interests of half the population and 84 senators for the other half.
Stanford political scientist Jonathan Rodden observes that there is a close correlation between population density and partisanship: “as you go from the center of cities out through the suburbs and into rural areas, you traverse in a linear fashion from Democratic to Republican places.” Because of this trend, Democrats have a very slim chance at winning a majority in the Senate, and even if they do, the likelihood of future Senate victories only decreases as high-population areas become increasingly dense.