A recently-published map of the convention floor provided by Politico shows that the non-states have snagged some precious real estate at the Republican National Convention this week.
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Puerto Rico’s position next to the stage might be due to the fact that Governor Luis Fortuño, a prominent Mitt Romney supporter, will be addressing the convention in primetime on Wednesday night. Fortuno’s wife was also scheduled to speak. The GOP may be hoping that Puerto Rico’s visibility at the convention will help turn the country’s increasingly active Latino electorate on to the Republican ticket.
But of the non-states, only DC will actually have any Electoral College votes up for grabs during the November general election, although all of these almost certainly will go to President Obama. No Republican candidate has ever carried the District in the general election since city residents first cast votes in 1964, and President Obama won DC with 93% of the vote in 2008.
So why place the non-states so close to the podium?
Politico speculates that GOP bigwigs may have banished states with large (and potentially raucous) Ron Paul followings—such as Nevada, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, and Oklahoma—to the outer rim of the Tampa Bay Times Forum in order to keep any disturbances out of TV cameras’ sites.
A more straightforward explanation may be that the non-states’ smaller delegations may have been just the right size to fill in gaps on the convention floor that larger delegations could not have coherently filled.
Guam, American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands—with populations ranging between 60,000 and 160,000, the lowest of all the states and territories in the country—each only send 9 delegates to the convention. DC, with 600,000 residents, sends 19. Puerto Rico, at 3.7 million residents (a population greater than 21 states) accounts for 23 delegates.
For comparison’s sake, the state with the smallest population—Wyoming, with 560,000 residents—sends 29 delegates, although other states such as Vermont and Delaware have slightly smaller delegations.