Senators voting to stop Trumpcare represent 36 million more people than the ones who didn’t

It must be nice to live in a democracy.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Molly Riley
CREDIT: AP Photo/Molly Riley

Tuesday afternoon, senators split 50–50 on a motion to proceed to debate an as-yet-undetermined plan to strip health coverage from an unknown number of Americans. Vice President Mike Pence, who received fewer votes than his Democratic opponent in 2016, cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of the motion.

Today’s vote was only a preliminary motion, but had the “nays” prevailed it would have effectively halted Trumpcare.

Every Democratic senator voted against the motion, as did Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Yet, while the number of senators opposing the motion was equal to the number supporting it, nothing even resembling the will of the people was carried out in the Senate on Tuesday.

That’s because the 50 senators who opposed the motion represent over 36 million more people than the 50 senators who voted against it. Senators who voted to advance the mystery health bill represent only 143,064,962 individuals, while senators opposing the motion represent 179,381,386 people.


ThinkProgress calculated these numbers using 2016 U.S. Census estimates. In states where both senators supported the motion, we allocated the entire state’s population to the “FOR” column. Likewise, in states where both senators opposed it, we allocated their state’s entire population to the “AGAINST” column. In states where the two senators split their votes, we allocated half of the state’s population to “FOR” and half to “AGAINST.”

You can check our work here.

This result is possible because the Senate is malapportioned to treat voters from some states as more important than voters from other states. California’s 39,250,017 residents receive exactly the same number of senators as Wyoming’s 585,501 residents, meaning that a Wyoming voter has 67 times as much representation as one from California.

Both California senators oppose Trumpcare. Both Wyoming senators voted to advance Trumpcare on Tuesday.