When D.C. Becomes a State, Our Wards Need to Become Counties

Despite Senators Manchin and Sinema, who are what narcissists look like when they lack significant sociopathic tendencies (though Manchin is also an ideologue), I’m going with when, not if.

One long-standing problem when looking at data for D.C. is that the city is treated as a giant amorphous blob. Very diverse areas are averaged into one large ‘county’ which subsumes all of D.C. I was reminded of this by a tweet that discussed the relationship between low vaccination and high Trump support (not going to talk about that issue now). What surprised me was how small, in terms of population, some of these counties are:

Ey8thgGWgA0-p3U

Depending on what year of census data one uses, only the largest county, Natrona County, Wyoming, comes close to or exceeds slightly the smallest D.C. ward (D.C. has eight wards of roughly equal population). In fact, fourteen out of 37 of these counties have fewer people than the census district in which I live, which is a GINORMOUS! 0.11 square miles. Nine of these 37 counties have fewer people than the number of 2000 general election voters in my voting precinct.

Very smol!

But the federal government will dutifully break out the data, even for the smol counties, while D.C. is treated as a single county.

This isn’t just a Data Nerd People problem. Consider COVID-19 vaccination data. The CDC breaks out some of the vaccination data by county, even for Slope County, North Dakota population 750 (which likely is fewer people than the people who live in the apartment buildings on my block–on my side of the street). Kinda granular.

Meanwhile, the CDC doesn’t report vaccination data for D.C. wards, so we have no idea where the roughly 25% of vaccinated people that D.C. doesn’t track* live. Are those ‘extra’ vaccinees mostly residents of one or two wards, or are they distributed equally across D.C.? And this happens will all sorts of federal data (just trying to be topical).

So the Douglass Commonwealth** should make wards counties. Even if we don’t use the names in regular discussion and still call them Wards 1 to 8–outside of Law and Order, does anyone refer to Manhattan as New York County?–it would force the federal government to provide data at that level. If they can do it for a county of 950 people, certainly they can do it for counties of over 80,000 people.

Besides, naming counties will be an excellent opportunity to be offensive and hyperbolic, and I do love publicly-funded entertainment.

Kidding aside, this really should happen.

*The CDC data for D.C. are FUBAR by design, with the exception of the number of people vaccinated.

**For those who don’t know, the proposal would change the District of Columbia to the Douglass Commowealth, named after Frederick Douglass (who “is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more“).

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2 Responses to When D.C. Becomes a State, Our Wards Need to Become Counties

  1. EB says:

    Upper Michigan’s largest county has about 60,000 people, and it goes down rapidly from there. Six of the 15 have fewer than 10,000, on down to about 2,000. So, no health department, judges that show up periodically, lots of services that have to be delivered from a distance or contracted out.
    Consolidation might make sense if the distances were not so great. So, your idea about counties for the 8 wards in DC makes perfect sense.

  2. Thud says:

    County McCountface

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