Senators Who Voted to Convict Trump Represent 18 Million More Americans Than Those Who Voted to Acquit

Senators representing 151.5 million Americans outvoted senators representing 169.5 million Americans to acquit President Donald Trump in his Senate impeachment trial.

A majority of the U.S. public indicated in recent polls that they supported Trump's impeachment and removal from office. Despite this, the Republican-led Senate on Wednesday afternoon voted against removing the president from office—48-52 on abuse of power and 47-53 on obstruction of justice charge—making him the third president in U.S. history to be acquitted from House-passed articles of impeachment. Senate Democrats needed 67 votes, two-thirds, to convict Trump, a longshot outcome given the political makeup of the members.

Only one Republican defected from the solid GOP majority, which represents 44 percent of the total U.S. population. Republican Senator Mitt Romney was the lone lawmaker to break from his party's ranks to support Trump's removal on the abuse of power charge. Democratic Senators represent a total of 168 million Americans and Romney 1.5 million, a total figure 18 million greater than the 151.5 million represented by the remaining Republican senators who voted to acquit. Yet the acquittal was confirmed.

Today's vote, which Democrats and Trump critics immediately protested, will drive further concerns about the Senate's disproportionality and ability to adequately represent a fast-changing America. It's effectiveness was last put into question when Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 by a 50-48 vote, with GOP senators voting for his confirmation, and Democratic senators voting against, with the exception of Joe Manchin from West Virginia, who voted with Republicans.

U.S. President Donald Trump waits with Interim President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, after his arrival at the White House, on February 5, 2020 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson/Getty

Democratic senators lost a majority of seats in the chamber to Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections despite leading by more than 12 million votes in the races. Two Senators are voted from each of the 50 states in America regardless of population size. Therefore, large states such as California, which has roughly 40 million people, have the same level of representation as smaller states such as Wyoming, the country's least populous. This means one voter from conservative Wyoming will possess greater influence over the makeup of the Senate than one voter from left-leaning California.

The disproportionality arises because smaller, rural states tend to lean red, often giving Republicans an advantage. And the gap between large Democratic states and smaller rural Republican states has continued to grow over the years. In 2018, Democrats also had to invest in defending 26 seats, including in California, but despite garnering more votes, it didn't translate to additional seats.

Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of Berkeley Law at the University of California, calls the Senate system "inherently anti-majoritarian" and notes that a constitutional amendment will be required for that to change. It's unlikely this will occur anytime soon, he added.