Emily Larsen, DCNF
The Democratic Coalition, a liberal super PAC, said in a fundraising email that the senators who voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh represent 44 percent of the U.S. population.
“Fifty-one U.S. Senators who collectively represent only 44% of the population just confirmed a Supreme Court nominee credibly accused of attempted rape who more Americans opposed than any nominee in history,” the Oct. 6 email said.
Kavanaugh earned 50 yea votes, not 51, but the math remains the same. Senators who voted yea account for about 44 percent of the U.S. population.
Senators, two for each of the 50 states, represent their states at large. Philip Bump of The Washington Post examined how votes in support of Kavanaugh would translate to the representation of the population by attributing half of each state’s population to their respective senators.
Bump published his analysis before four senators considered to be swing votes had taken a position on Kavanaugh’s nomination, but he calculated that yea votes would represent 44.4 percent of the population even if all four senators voted to confirm Kavanaugh.
When applying that methodology to the actual vote results, the percentage of the population represented by yea votes remains 44 percent.
The Senate confirmed Kavanaugh 50-48 in a mostly party-line vote Oct. 6, with Republicans voting yea and Democrats voting nay.
A Daily Caller News Foundation analysis using 2017 Census Bureau population estimates for each state shows that senators voting yea represent 143 million people – 44 percent of the nearly 326 million U.S. population. Senators voting nay accounted for 181 million people, or nearly 56 percent of the population.
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia was the sole Democratic senator to vote in support of Kavanaugh, and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted present. Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana missed the vote due to his daughter’s wedding. Murkowski and Daines represent less than 1 percent of the population.
Including the population of Puerto Rico in the U.S. population total (3 million people) or excluding the population of the District of Columbia (about 694,000 people) does not change the percentage breakdown of yea votes substantially.
Some commentators have called to restructure the Senate in the wake of the Kavanaugh vote. “It may not happen in our lifetimes, but the idea that North Dakota and New York get the same representation in the Senate has to change,” NBC reporter Ken Dilanian wrote in a tweet Oct. 6.
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