The Losing Regions – Part II

All the best for a great holiday break. The Political Updates will return on Monday, Jan. 4.

A look at how things might play out in key states in the redistricting tug of wars

By Jim Ellis
Dec. 24, 2020 — Continuing our two-part series of examining reapportionment projections for states expected to lose congressional seats, today we look at an additional four states with CDs on the chopping block: Illinois, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

At this point, it appears a total of ten states are in the losing category. Yesterday, we covered Alabama, California, Michigan, and Minnesota. The remaining two, Rhode Island and West Virginia, are moving to at-large and two district status, respectively, meaning their new maps become obvious.

The new apportionment, originally due at the end of this year but delayed due to COVID, could be released sometime in January.


Illinois is a sure loser and one of the few states where the overall population is less (over 158,000 people) according the latest available numbers (July 2019) than registered 10 years ago. Therefore, Illinois is in the rare situation of losing congressional representation not because the population failed to keep pace with the rate of growth, but rather due to the entity actually having fewer people.

This leads to speculation that the state could lose two seats because even in such a scenario the per district population number would be under 800,000 individuals. A two-seat loss would still render the state with a lesser per district total population figure than some of the other states losing one.

All current 18 Illinois CDs need to gain population even under a one-seat loss scenario. Making such calculations we see that the new rudimentary per district population figure would be approximately 745,401 individuals, less than the number projected for most states. Typically, states losing congressional districts feature much higher numbers. This adds to the speculation that the state could drop a second CD.

If the loss is only one, as the current projection formula suggests, the southern part of the state would appear to take the hit. This means that Republicans, while holding only five of the state’s current 18 districts, would likely lose a seat. Aside from Rep. Cheri Bustos’ (D-Moline) 17th District anchored in the Quad Cities region, which has the largest population number to gain, over 79,000 people, the remaining seven of the top eight districts needing a population increase come from the Downstate region.

The figures suggest that combining the five central and southern districts of Reps. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro), Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville), incoming freshman Mary Miller (R), Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon), and Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) into four districts would be the most likely scenario unless the Bustos district is collapsed. Considering that the Democrats control the redistricting process, it is probable that the former scenario would be the one adopted.

New York

Like Illinois, New York, while having slightly more people than they did in 2010 (just over 75,000 more according to July 2019 estimated figures), could be on the cusp of losing two seats. Of their current 27 districts, 24 must gain population. Only the seats of Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn), Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), and Adriano Espaillat (D-Bronx) are in the position of shedding residents. All others need a population influx even to reach the approximated 748,213 figure that appears be present at this point for a 26-District model.

As in Illinois, a two-seat loss would still keep the per district number at well under 800,000, much less than other states that are projected to lose congressional representation.

Also as in Illinois, the non-urban area looks to need the largest population gain (meaning Upstate, in this case), would contain the area most prone to lose a seat. This means, also as in Illinois, that the party in a small minority, the Republicans, is most likely the one on the chopping block.

Three Upstate seats, the 23rd (Rep. Tom Reed-R), 22nd (still undecided between Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi and Republican former Rep. Claudia Tenney), and the 21st (Rep. Elise Stefanik-R) are the three districts needing the greatest population influx. The 19th District of Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-Rhinebeck) ranks seventh of the 24 that need population, and this seat borders the three aforementioned.

In the metro New York City area, the districts of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx) and Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn) are in need of the most population. On Long Island, the 2nd District of incoming freshman Andrew Garbarino (R) is the one needing the highest number of new residents.


Potentially the most interesting outlook for states losing congressional representation comes in the Buckeye State of Ohio. Though 14 of the current 16 seats will need a population influx – only the districts of Reps. Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus) and Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) will need to shed population – it is the Democratic districts in the northeastern part of the state that need the greatest number of new people.

The soon-to-be-vacant 11th District of Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland), who was tabbed to become the new Housing and Urban Development Secretary in the new Biden Administration, needs the largest population influx, a number that could exceed 100,000 individuals. The district stretches from Cleveland to Akron, the latter city being shared with another Democratic CD, that of Rep. Tim Ryan’s (D-Warren/Youngstown) 13th District. The 13th CD is the fourth among the 14 districts needing further population.

The Ohio population numbers are fairly evenly distributed throughout the state, meaning the individual influx figures are relatively consistent. This suggests several redistricting options.

As in Illinois and New York, however, it does appear to be the party relegated to a distinctly low number of congressional seats, in this case the Democrats, could be the party on the losing end of redistricting, considering three of its four districts fall within the top four of seats needing further population.


The Keystone State of Pennsylvania, which has lost more districts than any other state since the 1930 apportionment, is again slated to lose a CD. This would take the state to 17 seats, below the number they held when Thomas Jefferson was president.

Since the court-ordered redistricting map was instituted before the 2018 election, the 18 current districts are all relatively balanced. Still, all 18 CDs need a population increase to reach the projected new per district number of 753,058, under rudimentary calculations based upon July 2019 data, the latest available.

The districts needing the greatest number of people all come from the western part of the state, suggesting again a Republican district could be on the chopping block. It’s not only the Republicans who could suffer political damage under such a scenario, however. The two Democratic seats in the Pittsburgh metro area could be negatively affected, as well.

The downtown Pittsburgh seat of Rep. Mike Doyle (D) is the fourth highest in terms of needing further constituents to reach the per district population total. This means, to keep it a Democratic seat, it would likely have to take the bulk of its new population from the neighboring 17th CD of Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh), which is already a district teetering to Republicans.

Therefore, even if the seat loss comes from the central-west scenario of districts, seats dominated by the GOP, Democrats will also likely be adversely affected in the Pittsburgh metro area. Currently, both parties hold nine seats in the 18-district statewide delegation.

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