The size of the House of Representatives has remained fixed at 435 members for more than a century. A static House stands in contrast to the vision of the framers of the Constitution who imagined that the House would grow with the population of the country. In this article we analyze the implications of a static House size on the partisan polarization of its members. Using a series of computer simulations, we imagine a set counter-factual worlds set in a purely hypothetical environment and in the real world to explore the relationship between apportionment and polarization. We find that increasing the number of districts exacerbates polarization, but that each additional seat has a diminishing marginal impact on partisan polarization. Our findings suggest that while increasing the size of the House may have other benefits, it would not reduce polarization, though the marginal increase in polarization slows greatly with larger chamber sizes.
Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy, Volume 3, Issue 3-4 Special Issue - The Political Economy of Polarization
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.