By Jim Ellis
April 28, 2021 — In virtually every 10-year apportionment announcement at least one surprise occurs, but the census unveiling Monday contained multiple blockbusters.
For example, two states had their final number of congressional districts determined by less than 90 people. Reportedly, if New York had just had 89 more people, that would have saved an Empire State congressional seat. Minnesota becomes the beneficiary allowing the state to barely hold its eighth district.
Instead of 10 seats changing states as had been forecast, only seven, affecting 13 domains, switched. Perhaps the main reason for the lower number is the decade population growth rate. According to yesterday’s final report, the nation grew at only a 7.4 percent rate, the lowest since the 1930 census’s 7.3 percent. By contrast, the population increase from the 2010 total was 9.7 percent.
Pre-census projections, for better than a year, had been predicting that Texas would gain three seats, Florida two, and Arizona one. The analysts also estimated seat losses for Alabama, Minnesota, and Rhode Island. None of these projections proved accurate.
On the other hand, prognostications for the balance of the map were accurate. Texas, and Florida did gain, but two and one, respectively, instead of three and two seats. Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon each added one district apiece as expected. The one-seat losers were California, for the first time in history, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
It’s a bit too soon to determine which party will benefit the most from these numbers at the congressional level, though Republicans should be up slightly in the Electoral College for the next presidential campaign. Once we see how the population is distributed within the states will better tell us whether Democrats or Republicans will take the most advantage of the apportionment. This will depend upon how the population spreads through the cities, suburbs, and rural regions.