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.