At-Large Numbers

While some states such as California (53) and Florida (24) have a lot of representation in the US House of Representatives, some states, including Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming have exactly one representative each.

They are as follows:

  • Alaska – Don Young (19 terms); Republican
  • Delaware – Mike Castle (9 terms); Republican
  • Montana – Denny Rehberg (5 terms); Republican
  • North Dakota – Earl Pomeroy (8 terms); Democrat
  • South Dakota – Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (3 terms); Democrat
  • Vermont – Peter Welch (2 terms); Democrat
  • Wyoming – Cynthia Lummis (1 term); Republican

A few interesting things come to my attention.

Comparing the average number of terms served by these representatives (6.7) with the average for the entire House (5), one sees that these members tend to serve longer than average terms. Granted, the pool of data is small, so don’t get carried away.

A slight majority of these representatives are Republicans.

Most of these states lean to the right. The only ones not really falling into this category would be Delaware and Vermont.

Perhaps most interestingly, these seven people represent 28% of the surface area of the United States.

2 thoughts on “At-Large Numbers

  1. What, me, get get carried away? 😉

    If the difference in terms is significant, perhaps there is something about at-large districts that makes it harder to challenge the incumbent. I’m tempted to suggest it takes more resources to run a statewide campaign — maybe it’s harder to make connections with all voting blocks in a state than in a couple counties in Minnesota or a neighborhood in NYC. Ah, there would be a test: take a look at the average terms served by Congresspeople from New York: do the Representatives from larger, rural upstate NY districts serve longer terms than the NYC Reps? Any such phenomenon in Minnesota?

    Of course, the inclusion of Delaware and Vermont in the at-large group suggests there’s something mroe than size at work. Hmm….

  2. CAH,

    I’m guessing that the single biggest factor is population (which is what makes these at-large seats by definition). The smaller the population, the fewer people in the pool of possible politicians. Here in South Dakota, we had two relative unknowns run against the at-large candidate in the last two elections.

    I would not be surprised if that principle would hold true for other states as well.

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