As of April 1, 2010, the date of the 2010 United States Census, the nine most populous U.S. states contain slightly more than half of the total population. The 25 least populous states contain less than one-sixth of the total population. California, the most populous state, contains more people than the 21 least populous states combined, and Wyoming is the least populous state, with a population less than 31 most populous U.S. cities.
The United States Census counts most persons residing in the United States including citizens, non-citizen permanent residents, and non-citizen long-term visitors. Civilian and military federal employees serving abroad and their dependents are counted in their home state.
Based on data from the decennial census, each state is allocated a proportion of the 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives, although each state is guaranteed a minimum of one seat, regardless of population. This apportionment is based on the proportion of each state's population to that of the Fifty States together (without regard to the populations of the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or other U.S. dependencies). The Electoral College is the body that, every four years, elects the President and Vice President of the United States. Each state's representation in the Electoral College is equal to that state's total number of members in both houses of the United States Congress. The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution effectively grants the District of Columbia, which is separate from any state, three votes. More precisely, the district gets as many votes in the Electoral College as it would have if it were a state, with the caveat that the district can have no more votes than the least populous state (which is currently Wyoming). Currently, this caveat is a moot point since the District would only be entitled to one Representative if it were a state, and is more populous than only two of the seven states with a single member in the House since 2013. Since the Constitution guarantees every state at least one Representative and guarantees every state two Senators, it effectively guarantees every state (and, since the ratification of the 23rd Amendment, the District of Columbia) at least three electoral votes. Thus, the total representation in the College is 538 members (equal to 100 senators plus 435 representatives, plus 3 members for the District of Columbia).
The eleven most populous states, representing 56% of the population, currently have a majority of the Electoral College votes, enough to elect the president. These eleven states have not voted for the same candidate in any presidential election since 1984. However, 56% of the population if in agreement should be able to elect the President; that is, after all, democracy. Comparatively, the 22 least populous states, representing 12.3% of the population with approximately a half million more people than California by itself, control 99 Electoral College votes or 18.4% of the total against California's equivalent population controlling 55 Electoral College votes. This gives voters in those 22 states the ability to sway the election toward any candidate well out of proportion to their percentage of the total populace.
|Rank in the fifty states, 2016||Rank in all states & territories, 2010||State or territory||Population estimate, July 1, 2016||Census population, April 1, 2010||Total seats in House of Representatives, 2013–2023||Estimated pop. per House seat, 2016||Census pop. per House seat, 2010||Percent of total U.S. pop., 2016|
- Because of rounding of the individual percentages, the entries in this column may not sum to 100%.
Summary of population by region
|Division totals – 9 divisions for 50 states and D.C.|
|Region totals – 4 regions ( 2 or 3 divisions each)|
|Total U.S. Territories|
|50 States + District of Columbia|
|Divisions & regions as defined by U.S. Census Bureau|
|Last col. shows larger region which contains entity in col. 1|
|District of Columbia||--||646,449||--||601,723||--||572,059||--||5.2%||SAtl|
|East South Central||8||18,716,202||8||18,432,505||8||17,022,810||5||8.3%||South|
|West South Central||5||37,883,604||5||36,346,202||5||31,444,850||2||15.6%||South|
|East North Central||3||46,662,180||3||46,421,564||2||45,155,037||9||2.8%||MWest|
|West North Central||7||20,885,710||7||20,505,437||6||19,237,739||6||6.6%||MWest|
|50 states and D.C.||--||316,128,839||--||308,745,538||--||281,421,906||--||9.7%||NAmer|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||3||--||3||106,405||3||108,612||2||-2.0%||Terr.|
|Northern Mariana Islands||5||--||5||53,883||4||69,221||5||-22.2%||Terr.|
- Demographics of the United States
- List of United States cities by population
- List of U.S. states by African-American population
- List of U.S. states by historical population (tables of state populations since 1790)
- List of U.S. states by population density
- List of U.S. states by population growth rate
- List of U.S. states and territories by area
- List of U.S. states by vehicles per capita
- List of U.S. states by religiosity
- United States