American Democracy Update

During the wild ride that was the 2020 election, I created a new way of visualizing election maps. I started by making a new electoral vote map to replace the one that gets shoved in our faces every four years, but it quickly became clear that my new style of map would be just as useful for showing the legislative branch.

Instead of showing a traditional map that massively distorts the apparent legislative power of large-area states and large-area congressional districts, I made each seat the same size. And because many House districts have completely ridiculous shapes, I displayed each district as the same shape – a hexagon, for easiest tessellation.

The result is two maps – one for the U.S. Senate and one for the U.S. House of Representatives – that show the distribution of political power in the U.S. legislature as it really is. From there, it’s easy to add the names and political parties of each representative to give a comprehensive picture of the legislature.

We last looked at this picture this March, with an update on the Senate, followed by an update on the House. How does it look today?

There has been no change in the membership of the Senate – see the map below, where Senators are shown by name in the approximate location of the state they represent, color coded by party. Red means Republican, blue means Democratic, and light blue means Independent Senators who have joined the Democratic Caucus.

The current United States Senate (click to open a larger version in a new tab)

Meanwhile there have been several changes in the House:

The current United States House of Representatives (click to open a larger version in a new tab)
  • Two elections have finally been settled after multiple recounts, and the candidates have finally taken their seats
  • It’s been a bad year for deaths in the House
    • On December 29, 2020 – before he could even take office – Luke Letlow (R-LA-5) died of COVID-19. A special election was held on March 20, 2021, which was won by his widow Julia Letlow (R-LA-5).
    • On February 7, 2021, Ron Wright (R-TX-6) died, also of COVID-19. A special election was held on July 27th, won by Jake Ellzey (R-TX-6).
    • On April 6, 2021, Alcee Hastings (D-FL-20) died of pancreatic cancer at age 84. A special election will be held on January 11, 2022 to name his replacement.
  • In happier news, some representatives have left for other jobs
    • On January 15, 2021, Cedric Richmond (D-LA-2) resigned to become Director of the Office of Public Liaison in President Biden’s cabinet. A special election on May 11th chose Troy Carter (D-LA-2) as his replacement.
    • On March 10th, Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11) resigned to become the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. A special election to replace her will be held on November 2nd.
    • On March 16th, Deb Haaland (D-NM-2) resigned to become Secretary of the Interior. On June 1st, a special election chose Melanie Stansbury (D-NM-2) to replace her.
    • On May 16th, Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) resigned to become the President and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. A special election to replace him will be held on November 2nd.

So the current party count is: 220 Democratic, 212 Republican, 3 vacant seats. Here is the map again; be sure to click on it for a larger version where you can more easily read the names of the representatives.

The current United States House of Representatives (click to open a larger version in a new tab)

As membership changes, more updates to come… American Democracy updates!

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