A lot of the complaints about the electoral college and the Senate can be traced back to the fact that we have states that are wildly different in population. If they weren't, a lot of the structural imbalances wouldn't completely disappear, but be much diminished.
This diary series takes a look at how the United States might look if the States were restructured so that the continental US (including DC, but excluding Hawaii and Alaska) is divided into 100 equally large states. Every state would presumably have 5 Congressional Districts (which increases the house size to 503, assuming that Hawaii stays at 2 and Alaska at 1), but I'm not dealing with that for now.
Why 100 states? Well, mostly because I've looked at a version with 50 in the past (although I don't think that I've diaried it here), but you could also make an argument that large states could be correlated with dysfunctional governments and that smaller states might be functioning better. There's definitely a strong correlation between gubernatorial approval ratings and state size, for that matter.
With a population of about 3 million, states would also be much more cohesive than they are right now-- what does Miami have to do with the Florida panhandle, after all?
This diary will deal with the first 8 states, covering the territory of what currently is Florida and some of Georgia.
I don't really have witty names for the states, but I'd be happy to get some suggestions in the comments.
59.7% Obama in 2008 (all political numbers are two-way unless otherwise specified)
62.7% Obama in 2012 (2012 Obama numbers are estimated from county-level results, but with high accuracy)
65.1% Nelson in 2012
This is probably the most obvious state to draw and a very easy one to start with, given that it is largely cornered by the ocean.
This would be the first solidly majority-Hispanic state in the nation, with over half of these Hispanics being of Cuban descent. This state is solidly Democratic to begin with and trended heavily blue in 2012. The Democratic primary here would be absolutely fascinating, with different power bases being mainly Jewish Democrats, non-Cuban Hispanics, Cuban Democrats, which are growing in number, African-Americans and Haitians.
At the same time, Cubans at the local level are still fairly Republican and with non-Cuban turnout in local elections being low, a lot of the local government here could still be dominated by Republicans.
Rating: Lean D against Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, at least Likely D against everyone else, especially if Democrats nominate a Cuban.
61.1% Obama in 2008
59.3% Obama in 2012
64.4% Nelson in 2012
Encompassing most of Broward County, almost all of Palm Beach and then some of the smaller counties north of these two giants, this state is politically not terribly interesting. It would almost certainly elect a Democrat, probably someone like Debbie Wasserman-Schultz if she's interested. If she's not, Ted Deutch or possibly someone like Palm Beach State Attorney and former State Senator Dave Aronberg would do just fine.
Rating: Safe D
South Central Florida
45.4% Obama in 2008
43.1% Obama in 2012
49.4% Nelson in 2012
You could probably dub this region the Florida Heartland. Most of the population lives along the coast in Cape Coral, Naples, Port Charlotte, and some smaller cities, with another, smaller concentration in the Lakeland area. Most of the area of the state though is made up by the swamplands of rural South Florida.
The state reaches, to get to its allocated 3.08 million people, into some southern exurbs of Tampa. That's hard to avoid. It also cuts out the Puerto Rican community in Osceola County, which I feel fits in much better with the state centered on Orlando.
This area is conservative, and Republican-- not always the same in the South, but in this case this area has been Republican for a while and doesn't tend to have terribly much sympathy for local moderate Democrats either. Bill Nelson's 2012 performance is probably the high water mark for Democrats in Florida, and he lost this area.
Connie Mack could try to finally get to the Senate from here, although it is doubtful that Republicans will just let him pass through the primary after his dismal 2012 campaign.
Rating: Safe R
51.1% Obama in 2008
49.6% Obama in 2012
57.9% Nelson in 2012
This might well be the only Gore-Bush-Obama-Romney district in the nation-- I'm not sure it went for Gore, although I guess I could calculate that if anyone's interested-- Gore underperformed Obama in Hillsborough and Pinellas, but did better than Obama in even 2008 in all areas north of Tampa-- winning Pasco County in the process.
In drawing this state, there was a hard boundary in the East given that Orlando shouldn't be split, so you have to move further North to fill up population, creating a mini Florida in the process that has Dixiecrats, African-Americans, Hispanics, Jews, and even Cubans in some areas of Tampa. However, this version of Florida is slightly Whiter and thus a point more Republican than the currently existing version.
Kathy Castor would be the marquee Democratic candidate here, while someone like Dennis Ross or Gus Bilirakis could be candidates on the Republican side.
Rating: Lean R in mid-term cycles, toss-up in Presidential years.
52.1% Obama in 2008
50.7% Obama in 2012
57.7% Nelson in 2012
Having placed the Bay Area and all of South Florida, the logical next state is located in Orlando. But Orlando and its surrounding areas don't have 3 million people, so it's merged with Cape Canaveral and the surrounding areas in Brevard County and reaching up further to almost Jacksonville-- an area that adds about a million people to the mix and prevents the state from being reliably Democratic.
I could well see the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party being fought here between Senator Bill Nelson and Congressman-elect Alan Grayson, and the outcome of that primary would largely determine whether the Senator from this seat would be a Democrat or a Republican.
Rating: Likely D with Nelson, Likely R with Grayson, Toss-Up otherwise.
46.2% Obama in 2008
45.0% Obama in 2012
Yay, the first state that crosses old state lines! This state, which is about 80% old Florida, 20% old Georgia, would have been reliably Democratic locally up until 1994, and Clinton would have won it twice. Now, it is solidly Republican on a federal level, drowning out liberal strongholds like Gainesville and Tallahassee in giant masses of Southern Whites. Although we can't say for sure for obvious reasons, I do believe that Senator Nelson would have defeated Connie Mack in this state, but in an open seat race without incumbency this would definitely favor the Republican, especially since we have basically no incumbent Dixiecrats left anywhere in this area to try and pull this off. A John Barrow clone would probably be competitive.
Steve Southerland would probably be a strong candidate here. For Democrats, I imagine we would do okay with Alvin Brown, the mayor of Jacksonville, but I doubt he could pull it off.
Rating: Likely R with Brown, Safe R otherwise.
49.8% Obama in 2008
49.2% Obama in 2012
Much like North Carolina now, this would be a quintessential state in the slow trend of the Deep South back towards the Democrats-- a trend that will take many, many decades in most states, but has culminated already in Virginia, North Carolina, and now this state along the Low Coast of Georgia and South Carolina that would have voted by the narrowest of margins against President Obama twice, but solidly against other Democrat since 1964 whose last name doesn't start with a C.
It's hard to say where this area will go from here. On the one hand, the black population in this area has actually been shrinking. On the other hand, black turnout has been rising (and I don't believe that this effect can be completely explained by President Obama's race), and this area is getting more Hispanic and Asian-- currently 6%, although probably at best 2% of voters-- but that will rise.
Locally, it really depends on what we do here. At 34% African-American, this state is right at the edge between being expected to select a white or a black candidate in the primary-- there would probably be a lot of national pressure from the DNC/DSCC to select John Barrow here, which would make the race probably a shoo-in for Democrats, but I would be surprised if he didn't face strong opposition from an African-American Democrat from, say, Charleston in the primary, who would have a harder time to get elected in the General.
Rating: Likely D with Barrow, Toss-Up with someone else in a Presidential year, Lean R with someone else in a mid-term.
EDIT: I edited this due to some suggestions in the comments and over on RRH about the handling of the suburbs. The exurbs would be completely fuming if thrown in with Alabama, so the state retracts a bit from the exurbs-- other than the parts which are already majority-minority or likely will be by 2020-- and expands more into some commuter towns south of Atlanta.
63.8% Obama in 2008
62.7% Obama in 2012
67.5% Obama in 2008
66.3% Obama in 2012
This state would easily elect African-American Democrats, which is absolutely fascinating to me, because I imagine it would bring some political rifts and factions in that community more to the foreground. African-Americans get usually treated as one united voting bloc-- and that's usually not too far from the truth, so elections in a state where they would be the dominating political faction promise to be very interesting.
Rating: Safe D