I figured that the Democrats would have a hard time regaining control of the Senate because of the gerrymandering that redrew congressional house districts to give Republicans a better chance of winning. Turns out I was looking at the wrong chamber of the Senate.
The Constitution grants two Senate seats to each state regardless of its population. As a consequence, a majority of senators are elected by voters in 26 sparsely settled states that together contain less than 18 percent of the country’s population.The Democrats represent 4.5 million more people but have 11 fewer seats. It is likely that after this election they will represent 10 to 20 million more people and still not have control of the Senate.
A few decades ago, this uneven distribution of power didn’t matter, because rural states regularly divided their votes between the two major parties. But in recent years, low-population states like Alaska, Kansas and Wyoming have voted as a conservative bloc, favoring Republican candidates by overwhelming margins.
Today the Republican Party holds an 11-seat Senate majority, but Republican senators represent 4.5 million fewer people than their Democratic colleagues, who tend to come from urban states like California, Illinois and New York. In the 2004 elections, Democratic candidates for the Senate captured nearly 10 percent more votes than Republicans nationwide, thanks to landslide support among urbanites. Yet the Republicans still managed to gain four seats, due to victories in rural states like South Dakota and South Carolina.
A similarly skewed outcome is possible this year. Democrats are widely expected to gain seats in Ohio and Pennsylvania. If they do, Democratic senators will represent some 10 to 20 million more Americans nationwide than Republican senators. But if rural voters in Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia swing conservative, the Republicans will cling to the narrow majority Mr. Rove has promised.
via NY Times