“Texas, Florida and North Carolina are among the states that will gain congressional seats based on new population data from the U.S. census, a shift that could boost Republican chances of recapturing the U.S. House of Representatives from Democrats in next year’s midterm elections. The overall U.S. population stood at 331,449,281, the Census Bureau said on Monday, a 7.4% increase over 2010 representing the second-slowest growth of any decade in history. The release of the data, delayed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic, sets the stage for a battle over redistricting that could reshape political power in Washington during the next decade. States use the numbers and other census data to redraw electoral maps based on where people have moved.” SOURCE: Reuters
It is constitutionally mandated that the U.S. government conduct a census every ten years. There are many benefits for all that data, but the original purpose was to allot congressional seats in the House of Representatives. Today the number is locked in at 435, so as states’ populations grow or (relative to others) shrink, a given state many gain or lose seats in the House. This ends up being very consequential, especially in a two-party country that is pretty evenly divided.
New York and California (two of the largest states with the most seats) are the most upset since they are seeing their relative political power in the House of Representatives wane for the first time in decades while Texas is smiling big with 2 added seats. Little Rhode Island is letting out a huge sigh of relief, since it was projected that Rhode Island would be losing 1 of their 2 congressional seats along with federal funding that is attached to that seat. However, Rhode Island managed to retain their two seats. The census only says how many seats a given state will have, but it is up to the state government to reapportion the districts. Redistricting can be very contentious and when it gets overtly and unfairly partisan, that’s when regular old redistricting can become gerrymandering.
Things to Consider: What demographic shifts have led to these new political patterns on the map? Will these shifts lead to gerrymandering? How will this impact the states gaining (or losing) seats?