The Republicans Didn’t Really Win the Senate

Tomorrow, Republicans will officially take control of the Senate for the first time since 2006. Once Vice President Biden finishes swearing in the Senate class of 2015, they will have a 54 to 46 majority over Democrats. It’s not a filibuster- or veto-proof majority, but it’s still a big deal for conservatives.

They’ve been saying for years now that voters were angry about President Obama and his policies, and the fact that Republicans will now control the Senate and the House is about as good a sign as you can get that the American people wanted a change. At least what Republicans want you to think.

The good people over at FairVote crunched some numbers and it turns out that the GOP’s takeover of Congress isn’t as much of a victory as the media says it was - far from it, actually. If you take the states out of the equation and just look at the nationwide totals, Democratic Senators actually got more votes than Republican Senators, and it’s not even close.

According to FairVote, the 44 Democratic Senators and their 2 independent allies received 67.8 million votes over the course of the 2010, 2012, and 2014 elections. The 54 Republican Senators, on the other hand, received only 47.1 million votes during that same time period. That’s a difference of more than 20 million votes!

If you think this is insane that the party that got the fewest votes - by over 20 million - now controls the Senate, well, then, you’re right. As it’s put together right now, the Senate is incredibly anti-(small "d") democratic. Because every state gets two Senators regardless of its population, the 580,000 people who live in Wyoming, for example, have just as much influence with their two senators as the 38 million people who live in California do with their two senators.

That’s not to say that the people of Wyoming don’t deserve representation - they do - but they already get that in the House Representatives. All the Senate does is make it a lot harder for the citizens of big states like New York and California to have a say in our political system. This is by design, too. The Senate was never meant to reflect the interests of the majority and was created by the Founders as a compromise between "big" states and "small" states.

And I'm not talking just about "small states" like Rhode Island - the white, and thus census- and voting-eligible population of slave states like Georgia was, in 1787, very small compared to New York or Pennsylvania, and these slave states wanted to make sure they had as much representation in Congress as did the more-white-populous non-slave states to the north. So every state got 2 Senators.

But what might have made sense two-hundred plus years ago to people trying to forge a new country and juggle the politics of slavery doesn’t make much sense now, and it has serious consequences for our democracy.

Come tomorrow, the new Republican-controlled Senate will have free reign to gut regulations and screw everyday working people in whatever ways it wants, even though it wasn’t elected by the majority of Americans. There are a couple of ways to fix this now that we no longer have to dance around the issue of slavery.

The first and most obvious is to amend the Constitution to abolish the Senate in favor of a more representative and democratic body based on proportional representation - something that most other advanced democracies have already done. But amending the Constitution is really, really hard, and would likely fail given Republican opposition to anything that resembles, you know, actual democracy. So, instead, we should consider something just as radical but probably more feasible.

We could break up big states into multiple smaller states and keep the same basic plan of two Senators per state. Turn California, for example, into three or four states; make New York City its own state; separate South Florida from the rest of the state; split Texas in two; and separate northern from southern Illinois. This would give people currently living in what are now big states a greater say in the Senate, but would avoid a messy and probably doomed amendment campaign.

It would also attract a lot of conservatives in big liberal states like California who are fed up with their current state governments and want to run things their own way - there are already conservative movements in Texas, California, and Colorado to split up their states.

One thing needs to be clear, though: whether it’s through amending the constitution or breaking up the states, a change needs to happen. The status quo doesn't work, is biased towards rural Republicans, and is fundamentally at odds with democracy.


Kend's picture
Kend 8 years 21 weeks ago

As a Canadian one thing I always admired about America was how much power each state had over the Fed. It is very clear this doesn't work for the left. Socialism only works if there is no choice. Look at how the car industry left the big union states and has migrated to non-union business freindly states. If all states had the same tax codes and rules that would not have happened. That's why I think health care should be state by state like Canada so you can follow the states that find the right formula instead of been stuck with what your forced with.

Arrgy's picture
Arrgy 8 years 21 weeks ago

@ Kend

You're refering to the times after Reagan ruined our country with elitism, then bush with fascism. Understand that Our Constitution is a social, liberal contract. It says so. When that came back into adherence. After the 1st great depression, socialism worked really well. Because of that fact, no one complained. We had nothing to complain about! We were doing what no other country did. We prospered for 30 straight years. The American dream was a given.

With the coup by karl Rove, the Nazi party and Fox propaganda, people have been made to believe that it was all wrong without explaining what and why. A good old fashioned brain washing.

I don't think Democrats didn't vote as much as the elctronic voting machines are still not honest. When a Secretary of state can hide in his office and change the votes to what ever he types in, you can't skip that part.

In the last few decades, people have been taught to lie and cheat in the face of democracy. This is not America anymore. It's the 4th reich Amerika. Run by known Nazi families.

Kend's picture
Kend 8 years 21 weeks ago

Sorry Arrgy I think globalization changed America. You now have to compete with low wage countries that are stealing your jobs. If you want what you had thirty years ago be prepared to pay for it. It used to take a weeks pay to buy a coffe maker now it only takes an hours pay. Of course they are junk but that's why Americans live Walmart. If you want to fix America. Buy American.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 21 weeks ago

Kend, your "states rights" argument sounds like the worst feature of our union of states. If you can't own slaves in your state you can move to another stae where you can. Or, in your case, if you can't rent slaves - that is, if you can't effectively make slaves of your wage workers - then move to a state where you can. Business owners and executives aren't the only people who deserve any rights, Kend. You make a good argument for Federalism.

I always thought the Senate was because the states were initially independant sovreign states thus the nation was a joining together of equals and so each state, in some measure, got equal vote and representation. It's like the U.N., Israel has 3 million people or so and China has a billion but each has one vote.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 21 weeks ago

Kend, socialism would work great if there's a choice. If Democrats hadn't taken out the public option out of the ACA to get insurance industry tool Joe Liebermannn's vote to avoid a Senate filibuster it would be more popular than ANY insurance plan of the private sector and would've run those blood suckers out of the health industry. The Post Office is also better than Fed Ex or UPS.

You make a lot of statements with no foundation in truth.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 21 weeks ago

Kend, the reason it takes an hour's pay to buy a coffee maker is because coffee makers are less expensive. Technology always becomes less expensive when technology improves and items are easily mass produced - like flip phones. Wages are not the cause - or it would still cost a weeks pay to buy a coffee maker in your great America where you can flip a switch - or go to another state - and lower everybody's wages.

liz banker 8 years 21 weeks ago

You caould have the Majority of votes and still be in the "Minority" as was the case in the 113th Congress. When will Democrats play hardball and really represent the will of the people according to your quoting of the statistics: "44 Democratic Senators and their 2 independent allies received 67.8 million votes over the course of the 2010, 2012, and 2014 elections."

ChristopehrCurrie's picture
ChristopehrCurrie 8 years 21 weeks ago

I believe that liberals would be far more successful if they pointed out that millions of poor working Americans haven’t been getting healthcare, because their corporately sponsored Republican Governors and legislators evidently figured that they could improve their chances of winning in the 2014 elections by DENYING the poor working American citizens in their state their right to vote through enacting state voting-rule changes and absurd “voter ID legislation” AND by refusing to implement Obamacare (including it’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility), so that many of those poor workers in their state would literally DIE before the 2014 elections because they couldn’t get the healthcare they needed in order to stay alive.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 8 years 21 weeks ago

The night of the living Foxmerized voters seems to be a movie without end. They've been brainwashed into thinking the corpse/billionaires need their help via more tax cuts, deregulation, and anti-union privatization. It's one thing for rural Republicans to vote for more economic misery for themselves in order to further enrich the billionaires, that's fine with me, hey tough love, but leave the vast majority.....the citizens who vote for economic progress, out of the damn self injurious Fox madness. I vote to split up the states and fix the Senate problem, anything to restore representative majority rule government!

SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 8 years 21 weeks ago

Still, there's an important issue that the media marketed to libs chose to ignore ever since the Clinton admin. Clinton/Gore targeted the poor, giving us 8 yrs of Bush. The poor voted third party or withheld their votes, and the middle class picked Bush. Twice. The poor, and those who get why unrelieved poverty is sinking the US, overwhelmingly voted for Obama in hopes that he could launch a legit discussion about our poverty crisis, which (of course) has only grown. He tried, Dems and libs aren't interested. In the real world, not everyone can work (health, etc.) and there aren't jobs for all who urgently need one. Dems and media libs have spent another 6 years waving the Middle Class Only banner. The 2014 election was the result. If that wasn't enough, they are also working hard to lose 2016 by sweeping VP Joe Biden under the rug, hoping to elect Hillary Clinton, with her long record of support for the right wing agenda. Bill Clinton was the first president to begin dismantling Social Security, targeting the disabled. Hillary Clinton would finish it off.

SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 8 years 21 weeks ago

Well, the working poor are still far better off than the jobless poor, as long as they don't become too sick to work. Once you can no longer have a home address, phone, bus fare, you're out. You can't get another job. We got very tough on the jobless poor, and many of the unemployable. The working poor have the same health care that our jobless poor have.

SHFabian's picture
SHFabian 8 years 21 weeks ago

Here's a clue: Since the Clinton admin., Democrats have ensured the passage of more of the right wing agenda than Republicans could have imagined possible. The devil's in the details -- the actual votes on legislation -- and people too rarely track the votes of Congress. Lib media have, in large part, been failing to fill in the details. Think about it: Clinton/Gore targeted the poor, giving us 8 years of Bush, elected by the middle class. Twice. The poor voted third party or withheld their votes. Dems can't win elections with the votes of middle class Dems alone. The 2016 Dem Party candidate is actually VP Joe Biden. Any Dem can challenge him for the nomination, of course. The media marketed to libs went into overdrive to sell H. Clinton in his place. Please do the research, people. H. Clinton has a long record of support for the right wing agenda -- pro-war, anti-New Deal.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 21 weeks ago

Mr. Fabian, I still don't understand how that corporate fascist noise machine passes for "liberal" media, and you have yet to explain it to me. And by the way Bush wasn't "elected"; the Extreme Court picked him for us and that election was stolen. Both times Bush II won, it was stolen. Greg Palast could attest to that. - AIW

Arrgy's picture
Arrgy 8 years 21 weeks ago

Democracy is DEAD!!!

Bush lost twice. That's a fact. That coup continues through brainwashing and election fraud.

Ou812's picture
Ou812 8 years 21 weeks ago

A drowning man will grab for a straw:)

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 21 weeks ago

And a mindless twit will suck on a giant hot dog.

upperrnaz12348's picture
upperrnaz12348 8 years 21 weeks ago

The more I follow what happens in the States, as an ex-pat, not living in the States, my passport is more of a "convenience" if I do want to get back to the US to travel. Otherwise, unless the the leadership gets serious, and stops getting wrapped up in their ideologies, we may see the birth the greatest Banana Republic in the world.

The neo-Conservatives have brought the arguement about Socialism, and forget it no longer exists. What they mean, maybe, is cutting back at the safety net to point that if you are genuinely poor there is no social mobility. A college education is beyond their reach, the salaries are such that there is no way to save for anything., or so it seems. All that, and other crazinesses that were not there. Indeed, the EU hasn't been immune from the American "disease", either, but maybe they have the wisdom and the experience garnered after WWII, to get back to themselves. We're seeing some of that re-thinking going on. there, and when it reaches America the conservative loud mouths make sure you will never know how it really works.

As not as good as it is in the rest of the world, somewhow, in the more stable nations outside of the States, those US citizens that have chosen not to live in their "motherland", I fear, for the moment, have it better.

Ou812's picture
Ou812 8 years 21 weeks ago


Everyone has the right to be stupid, but you are abusing the privilege :)

Ou812's picture
Ou812 8 years 21 weeks ago


kayejaye's picture
kayejaye 8 years 21 weeks ago

We can argue about what the Senate numbers mean but what about the governor's races? They kept electing the same aholes in FL, MI, and WI and threw in a few more to boot. And legislatures keep getting more right wing conservative, so what does that mean? Nothing good. And I read that because of the continued right trend of legislatures, the Dems are going to continue to lose out due to more gerry mandering, etc.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 21 weeks ago

It wasn't the liberal media.

SHFabian, the media isn't liberal, if it's targeted to liberals it hits them with more or less subtle conservative propaganda - to cure them of any liberalism.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 21 weeks ago

Ou812, how would YOU be able to tell? ;^]]

Ou812's picture
Ou812 8 years 21 weeks ago

Saulys, I'm a progressive! I know everything :)

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 21 weeks ago

Reply to #18: OU, You got me. I'm devastated. I think I'll go hide from Blog Land for a week or two until the shame wears off. - AIW

(P.S.-- Pssst! You are what you eat!)

Ou812's picture
Ou812 8 years 21 weeks ago

Alice: I love you:))

Progressive Republican's picture
Progressive Rep... 8 years 20 weeks ago

Pretty close, Arrgy, but you need to know that conservatives fought every typoe of FDR's reforms tooth-and-nail and complained bitterly once those reforms were enacted. That's why he capitulated to their whining in 1937. That capitulation resulted in jump-starting the Depression which then took WWII to end.

Progressive Republican's picture
Progressive Rep... 8 years 20 weeks ago

I would like to know where I can buy a new coffee maker for $7.25, please.

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