Political Power Moves South and West
- Population and power moving South and West does not necessarily help the GOP. Colorado, Virginia and Florida are projected to gain electoral college votes, but all three states voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012.
(From Sabato's Crystal Ball) - At the end of 2014, the Census Bureau released its 2014 population estimates. This provides new fodder for political geeks when looking ahead to the 2020 census and its major political impact: congressional reapportionment.
Unfortunately, the Census Bureau doesn’t release state-level population projections anymore, just national estimates up to the year 2060, leaving it to others to extrapolate where the 50 states will be on April 1, 2020. The well-regarded firm Election Data Services — you may have seen some of their big election maps — put together a set of projections and found that, if trends continue, somewhere between 14 and 17 states may gain or lose U.S. House seats after the 2020 census, as shown above in Map 1.
Winners - Based on EDS’s projections, California (+1), Colorado (+1), Florida (+1), North Carolina (+1), and Texas (+3) are in line to gain at least one seat. In some cases, EDS found that Arizona, Oregon, and/or Virginia may also pick up an additional seat.
Losers - On the other side of the ledger, Alabama (-1), Illinois (-1), Michigan (-1), Minnesota (-1), Ohio (-1), Pennsylvania (-1), Rhode Island (-1), and West Virginia (-1) are positioned to lose a seat, and in at least one projection New York also lost one.
These changes are a broad continuation of the same patterns we have seen over the last few decades. States in the South and West, mainly in the Sun Belt, continue to see larger increases in population relative to states in the Northeast and Midwest. As a result, successive reapportionments keep shifting more and more seats to Southern and Western states at the expense of Northeastern and Midwestern states, as a Crystal Ball analysis from last year explored.
The gains or losses are worth exploring. The biggest winner for the second straight cycle will probably be Texas, with projections showing it likely to gain three seats after it gained four following the 2010 census. Should it gain three, the Lone Star State will have 39 House members, consolidating its position as the second-largest state in the U.S.
Looking further ahead, if it gains at least one more seat after the 2030 census — a seemingly likely outcome given recent trends — the country will have two states, California and Texas, with 40 or more representatives in Congress for the first time in its history, though the 435-seat House has only existed since 1910. Having two 40-plus states almost happened after the 1970 reapportionment but just missed: While California crossed the 40-seat threshold to 43 seats, New York fell from 41 to 39.
Until 2010, California had gained at least one seat in every reapportionment since it became a state in 1850, but the latest estimates suggest that it may again add a seat after 2020. In December 2014, the Census Bureau announced that Florida had surpassed New York to become the third-largest state in the union.
Read more at Center for Politics.