As we reported last week, the Census Bureau will announce the 2010 population figures tomorrow, telling us how many congressional seats each state will have for the ensuing decade.
As has been covered for several months, the states virtually assured to gain seats are Texas (3 or 4), Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Utah, while Ohio (-2), Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania appear to be sure losers. It also looks like Florida, South Carolina, and Washington will gain. Among Missouri, Minnesota, and Illinois, it is also a virtual certainty that at least two of these three will lose a seat. One unsubstantiated estimate also put Florida in the mix for gaining a second seat and New York losing a second, but these numbers seem out of context with what was previously known and released. North Carolina is also a potential long shot to gain, as it was in the 2000 census when it was awarded a 13th district.
As with all of the projections, the pre-release estimates are never fully correct. None of the previous calculations included 2010 data, and some of them were completed even before the 2009 population estimates were released. Therefore, uncertainty does exist as to exactly how the full complement of winning and losing states will unfold. The apportionment formula is complicated and state-specific.
The decade’s growth rate is certainly a determining factor for the number of seats apportioned, but that means vastly different raw numbers in each state. For example, a 10% rate of growth means a gain of approximately 9,700 people in Montana, but 3.7 million in California. Adding such a number to the Montana population will not result in an increase in representation, but the same percentage uptick for California very well may. Thus, simply put, it is easier for the bigger states to gain and lose districts than for the smaller ones to move up or down.
The apportionment numbers also affect the presidential race. Most of the swing means that the Democratic nominee, certainly to be President Obama, will have fewer electoral votes in his coalition of states than he did in 2008 because the states that the Democrats typically win are losing representation, and the ones Republicans normally carry are gaining. Just how great the electoral vote count change will be become known tomorrow. We will have a full analysis of the new congressional apportionment on Wednesday.