Tag Archives: 2020 Census

Census Delays: Some Ramifications

By Jim Ellis

June 1, 2021 — As we know, the Census Bureau has delayed in meeting its public reporting deadlines, which causes ramifications in the political world. As a result, the state officials responsible for redistricting could well find themselves placed behind the proverbial eight ball as the new year approaches.

Reapportionment is the term used to explain the entire decennial process. Reapportionment, as the US Supreme Court defined it in their 1999 ruling on the US Census Bureau v. House of Representatives case, is basically divided into two parts. The first, which was finally completed and released on April 26, is the allocation of congressional seats to the states. The second is the re-drawing of congressional, state, and local district boundaries most often referred to as redistricting.

To complicate matters even further, the delayed allocation proved much different – affecting six seats to be exact – than predictions. It was believed for at least two years that Texas would gain three seats in the 2020 reapportionment and Florida two, with Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon adding one seat apiece. The actual numbers found Texas gaining two, Florida one, and Arizona none. The other one-seat gaining states were correctly predicted.

Conversely, Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia were all expected to lose one seat apiece. The actual report found Alabama, Minnesota, and Rhode Island each retaining the same number of seats they held in the 2010 reapportionment, while the others did lose a single district apiece.

The Census Bureau claims that COVID is largely responsible for their delays, but the state of Alabama, in their pending lawsuit against the federal statistical entity, disagrees. Alabama claims the deadline violations occurred because of the Bureau’s attempt to impose, for the first time in history, differential privacy over the data. This means, under the argument of protecting individual privacy, data would be deliberately scrambled, and certain information not publicly released.

Differential privacy alone would make redistricting extremely difficult for state map drawers because the released census tract numbers, now by definition, wouldn’t equal the state population figures brought forth earlier in the year. The effect would cause political havoc throughout the country. A court ruling on the Alabama case is expected shortly.

Because of a successful legal challenge from Ohio, the Census Bureau has agreed to make the data necessary for redistricting available to the states by Aug. 15 instead of the Oct. 1 date indicated when allocation was announced.

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Apportionment Surprises


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.

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