Fact Check: L.A. County And 7 States DO Have Same Number Of People And Different Congressional Representation -- But That's Normal

Fact Check

  • by: Christiana Dillard
Fact Check: L.A. County And 7 States DO Have Same Number Of People And Different Congressional Representation -- But That's Normal It's The Law

Do Los Angeles County and the combined population of seven Midwestern and Western states have roughly the same population, but different congressional representation? Yes, although the comparison is misleading: Every state (and therefore, counties in the state) is represented by two U.S. senators, no matter the area's population. Conversely, the number of a state's representatives in the U.S. House, which grants the number of seats based on apportionment, corresponds to a state's population size.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) published on July 12, 2021. The post featured a screenshot of a tweet that had a picture of a U.S. map with Los Angeles County highlighted in blue and Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming highlighted in red. The text of the screenshotted tweet reads:

That TINY blue dot and that large red swarth have the SAME number of citizens.
That TINY blue dot has only 2 senators as representatives.
That large red swarth has 14.
Let that sink in..

This is what the post looked like on Facebook on July 14, 2021:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Jul 14 19:02:20 2021 UTC)

Lead Stories used the most recent data (2019) from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine the population of each location. Los Angeles County had a population of 10,039,107 while the seven states had a combined total population of 10,170, 801 [see table "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019 (NST-EST2019-01)"].

Because U.S. senators are statewide representatives, not county representatives, it is more precise to say that the state of California has two U.S. senators. However, this is true of every state, no matter their population size. According to the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

As the name suggests, the U.S. House of Representatives is more representative of population size. The U.S. Census Bureau published a resource on congressional apportionment that explained:

'Apportionment' is the process of dividing the 435 memberships, or seats, in the House of Representatives among the 50 states. The Census Bureau conducts the census at 10-year intervals. At the conclusion of each census, the results are used to calculate the number of House memberships to which each state is entitled. Apportionment is the initial use of the results of each census. While there are numerous other uses for census data, a second major use is for geographically defining state legislative districts.

According to the U.S. House of Representatives' website, there are 53 U.S. representatives from California. Eighteen of those representatives represent districts in Los Angeles County (From "District Type" drop-down box, select "US Congressional." Eighteen districts are shown.). In contrast, the seven states highlighted in the Facebook post have a combined total of 13 U.S. representatives. This is because their individual population numbers are significantly lower than California's.

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  Christiana Dillard

Christiana Dillard is a former news writer for Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. She received her undergraduate degree in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been a freelance writer for several organizations including the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, Pitt Magazine, and The Heinz Endowments. When she’s not producing or studying media she’s binging it, watching YouTube videos or any interesting series she can find on streaming services.

Read more about or contact Christiana Dillard

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