CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The U.S. midterm elections will be held on Nov. 8, which means its almost time for thousands of people to use their power as citizens to vote. But, how much power do West Virginians hold in these national elections?
Ballots are weighed differently based on the state. Votes for Senate can be weakened exponentially based on how many people live in the state compared to the amount of senators that state has, but the House of Representatives gives seats based on population, same for the presidential elections. In other words, a lot goes into how much influence each vote has.
A recent WalletHub study identified the states with the most and least influential voters in the country. So how does West Virginia fare? According to WalletHub, in terms of overall voting power, West Virginia is ranked 13, with Wyoming and Arizona taking first and last respectively.
But what about specific races? WalletHub has that covered too. In Senate elections, West Virginia was again ranked 13, but House elections had the mountain state ranked 48. Finally, there are the Gubernatorial elections, in which West Virginia was ranked 15.
Overall Voting Power by States
|Rank*||State||Vote Power||Rank*||State||Vote Power|
|5||South Dakota||1.98||30||South Carolina||0.82|
|7||Rhode Island||1.88||32||North Carolina||0.80|
Note: The Overall Vote Power was calculated using the formula:
Overall Vote Power= Full* Senate Vote Power + Full* House Vote Power + Full* Gubernatorial Vote Power
We also gave double weight to those particular races where a tossup is anticipated (regardless if they were for senate, house or gubernatorial).
When looking into the methodology that WalletHub uses, these rankings start to make more sense.
To make their rankings, WalletHub calculated “the number of elected officials in the federal government per total number of adult residents in each state during the current midterm election year.” From this came three key metrics. “The higher the ratio for each, the more powerful the voters were or will be in the elections.” They also gave double weight to those particular races where a tossup is anticipated (regardless if they were for senate, house or gubernatorial).
From this, one then has to consider West Virginia’s population (1.783 million as of 2021), and its number of elected officials.
West Virginia has two Senate seats, same as every other state, meaning its low population makes each vote that much more powerful. But, when considering the House race, that same population is to its detriment. West Virginia only has 3 house seats (2 starting in 2023), so the state falls far behind other states who are allowed a much greater number of representatives.
The three key metrics (and corresponding weights):
- Senate Elections – Full Weight: Number of Senators in Each State/Projected Population Aged 18 or Older in 2022
- House Elections – Full Weight: Number of Representatives in Each State/Projected Population Aged 18 or Older in 2022
- Gubernatorial Elections – Full Weight: Governor/Projected Population Aged 18 or Older in 2022
All said and done, the numbers are not perfect. WalletHub only counted the population aged 18 or older to represent actual voters, and they themselves said that “the data was not able to account for the limited number of state laws that allow 17-year-old residents to vote and/or bar prisoners or felons from doing so.”