Category Archives: Apportionment

Apportionment: Florida Gains, New York Loses

The Census Bureau released the new state population figures yesterday and confirmed that 12 congressional seats will change states for the coming decade. It had been clear for some time that Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington were going to gain, and Ohio, New York, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were going to lose representation. But, the actual apportionment has traditionally been a bit different from the pre-census estimates. Not so in 2010.

A recent Election Data Services forecast precisely the official apportionment. If there was a surprise, it was that Florida gained a second seat and New York lost two. Prior estimates suggested that Oregon was on the cusp of gaining a seat, but that proved not to be the case as their potential 6th district actually placed 442nd, some seven seats away from acceptance. Oregon, California, and Idaho were the only states not to gain in the far west. Idaho, despite a population increase of better than 21%, more than double the national average from 2000, did not come close to gaining a third congressional district.

There was suspense, however, as to whether Missouri or Minnesota would lose the final district. The result is Missouri — as the Show Me State’s 9th district placed 437th, thus limiting them to eight seats for the ensuing decade. Minnesota held its 8th district by about 15,000 people, thus denying North Carolina a new 14th seat. The hypothetical NC-14 was the 436th district, or the next one in line.

The national population increased 9.7% over the decade. The state with the largest percentage growth increase was Nevada at 35.1%, while Michigan is the only place that now has fewer people than it did at the beginning of 2000. Michigan’s real growth rate was a negative 0.6%. The only US non-state entity to decline in population was Puerto Rico, which lost 2.2% of its population over the last ten years.

The top five population gainers are Nevada (35.1%), Arizona (24.6%), Utah (23.8%), Idaho (21.1%), and Texas (20.6%). The five states with the slowest growth rates are Michigan (-0.6%), Rhode Island (0.4%), Louisiana (1.4%), Ohio (1.6%), and New York (2.1%). California, not gaining a seat for the first time in history, had a 10.0% real growth rate. The aforementioned Oregon recorded a 12.0% increase.

The apportionment formula becomes clear when comparing Florida and Delaware. It’s a good example as to why it is easier for the big states to gain and lose seats. The Sunshine State’s rate of growth was 17.6%, but the raw number increase was 2.9 million inhabitants. Hence, the awarding of two additional seats. Delaware saw a population increase of 14.6%, but gained only 114,000 people. Their new population of more than 897,000 is large for one district, but, like Montana’s situation, is much too small for two.

The addition of two districts in Florida probably gives each party a new seat. The GOP, with a hold over the redistricting pen, will likely have a 21R-7D seat ratio goal, though the new redistricting restrictions voters placed upon map drawers may make it difficult for Republicans to take 2/3 of the seats when the statewide vote normally breaks closer to 50/50.

The switch of districts also affects the presidential election. Looking at President Obama’s 2008 winning coalition of states, his total of 365 electoral votes would diminish to 358 under the new apportionment, while the Republican total would grow to 180 if every state were to vote the same way in 2012. This means a net swing of 14 votes for the GOP, equivalent to winning a state the size of New Jersey or Virginia.

Apportionment Announcement Tomorrow

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.

The House in 2012: The Vulnerables

Talk is already beginning about which of the newly elected and veteran House members will be on the hot seat in 2012, but little will be clear until redistricting is complete. Remembering that all multi-district states will change their congressional maps in 2011 (or early 2012), it is virtually impossible to project today which of the current incumbents will have bumpy re-election roads in 2012.

Looking at the reapportionment formula, a calculation that will be final and official before the end of this year, where will both Republicans and Democrats either protect a large number of their current seats or make substantial gains?

One of the top such states had not been decided until just before Thanksgiving. The New York state Senate is the key to the state’s redistricting process and it appears that Republicans have won enough undecided races to claim a small majority. If the GOP Senate majority becomes official, then count on a court-drawn 2012 map as they will have the necessary votes to block the Democratic plan coming from the House. Assuming NY-1 holds for the Democrats (the lone outstanding congressional race in the country), the GOP gained six seats in the 2010 election giving them a grand total of eight in the state, still a rather paltry total for a delegation of 29 members but an improvement over the 27-2 split from the current Congress. New York will lose at least one seat in reapportionment and, considering the probable population trends, the representation reduction should come from either New York City or Long Island. If the Democrats gain control of the Senate, a prospect that now appears unlikely, watch for a map that allows their party to regain some of the seats they lost in November.

If you’re looking for a place where Republicans are poised to make gains, watch North Carolina. With Democratic Gov. Bev Purdue having no veto over redistricting legislation, the new Republican legislature has full control of the map drawing process. The Tar Heel State is the place where the GOP has the opportunity to gain the largest number of US House seats. With Republicans usually winning the statewide vote, Democrats control the congressional delegation 8-5, and the GOP only pulled to within this number with Renee Ellmers’ upset win over Rep. Bob Etheridge in NC-2. The Republicans’ first priority will be to improve Ellmers’ seat and then look to give several Democratic incumbents more difficult seats. Reps. Mike McIntyre (D-NC-7), Larry Kissell (D-NC-8), Heath Shuler (D-NC-11), and Brad Miller (D-NC-13) could all find themselves in much more competitive political situations under a Republican-drawn map.

Expected to gain four seats, Texas will again attract great redistricting attention. Republicans now enjoy a 23-9 margin in the congressional delegation and it will be hard to exceed this ratio, even when considering the four new seats with which an enlarged GOP legislative majority can play.

Republicans also control the pen in the more Democratic or marginal states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio. This helps the GOP dramatically, because each state will lose at least one district. Ohio appears headed for a two-seat reduction. Since the GOP has virtually maximized the size of their representation in at least PA and OH, they will need such power just to protect what they have.

The Democrats will certainly take a loss in Massachusetts, as the Bay State’s 10-member Democratic delegation will be reduced by one seat. This Democratic loss, however, will be offset in Louisiana as the 6-1 Republican line-up will drop to 5-1. The lone Democratic seat, the New Orleans-based 2nd district, enjoys Voting Rights protection and will not be collapsed.

California, which could be a Democratic gain state, and Florida, the site of the best GOP map of the 2001 redistricting cycle, are big question marks. Ballot initiatives created a redistricting commission in California and made stringent map-drawing requirements upon the legislature in Florida, so the current outlook in both states is cloudy.

Much will happen in the coming redistricting year making early 2012 congressional predictions most difficult and unreliable. Those who thought the 2010 cycle was long and grueling haven’t seen anything yet.

Potential Republican Gain in LA Likely to Last Only 2 Years

The national nominating cycle finally drew to a close this past Saturday evening with an easy 65-35% Republican run-off victory for attorney Jeff Landry. He defeated former state House Speaker Hunt Downer in the open Louisiana-3 district, the seat Rep. Charlie Melancon (D) is vacating to challenge Sen. David Vitter (R).

Back in August, Landry came within a fraction of a percentage point of winning the nomination outright, but the fact that he did not exceed 50% plus one vote necessitated the second election. Since Mr. Landry came so close to victory against Downer, who was originally viewed to be the favorite, and several others, the eventual run-off result became a foregone conclusion.

Landry now faces Democratic attorney Ravi Sangisetty in a campaign projected to be a Republican conversion win. But the November election is not the biggest political obstacle to having a long congressional career for one of the new nominees to face. The winner will likely hold the seat for only two years because reapportionment is almost assuredly going to reduce the size of the Louisiana congressional delegation by one district. With population changes, the fact that LA-2 just to the north is a protected Civil Rights district and needs to gain people, and the territory borders the Gulf of Mexico, there is little other option but to collapse the 3rd district when the state’s new congressional map is drawn. Nothing is certain when it comes to politics and redistricting, but the chances of the 3rd district being next year’s apportionment victim are high.

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Apportionment Changes Predicted

A new Election Data Services report detects changes in the predicted numbers of congressional seats that states will receive in the 2010 apportionment. The Census Bureau will officially announce the actual count in late December.

Previously, EDS and Polidata, Inc., the latter with offices in both Vermont and Washington, DC, each predicted that only two states would gain or lose more than one seat. Texas is slated for four new districts, bringing the Lone Star State total to 36 Representatives. Ohio is virtually assured of losing two, dropping their delegation to a total of 16 members.

Now, however, it appears that Florida, already predicted to gain one seat, will add a second new district. This will come at the expense of New York, which will now apparently drop a second seat instead of the one that was originally projected. Should these predictions prove accurate, both states will enter the new apportionment decade with 27 congressional districts (CDs).