Share this story...
census, elections
Latest News

US House changes from Census may have implications for future elections

The U.S. Census logo appears on census materials received in the mail with an invitation to fill out census information online on March 19, 2020 in San Anselmo, California. (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Washington state’s population now stands at 7.7 million people as of the 2020 census, which is up by about 15% from the 2010 numbers. Despite that jump, the state will not be getting any more U.S. House seats or electoral votes — and won’t lose any either — but other states will, which could have implications for the future elections.

Report card grades state Republicans who supported Trump impeachment

“So Texas, which gained two seats, they will have two additional seats in the House plus two more electoral college votes,” CBS Political Analyst Leonard Steinhorn told Seattle’s Morning News. “… Texas got two. Florida, North Carolina, Montana, Oregon, and Colorado each gained a seat.”

“And then you have New York, California, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia each losing a seat,” he added. “So that shifts the balance of power a little bit. If you actually put in place these added and subtracted seats, Joe Biden, instead of getting 306 electoral college votes last November,
he got 303. So it appears to be, in that sense, a net gain of three electoral college votes for Republican leaning or red states, which presumably will translate to a small gain in their congressional delegations.”

That said, Steinhorn says the reapportionment of the census is only part of the changes. After the census and the reapportionment and every 10 years, the states then draw new districts.

“How those districts are drawn will often determine the makeup of the House of Representatives from each state,” he said. “So it could be that the Republicans might gain those three seats, but they could gain more because they are in control of 18 states — governor and legislature — versus the Democrats in control of only seven. And how they draw those seats in those particular states could add more to their margin of gain in the next Congress and throughout the decade. So it’s a census change and also a redrawing of district change that’s really going to have an influence on Congress.”

The gains and losses did not play out quite as expected, Steinhorn said.

“People expected even more gains for Texas,” he noted. “They thought Texas would gain three seats, it got only two. Florida, they thought would gain two seats, it got only one. A lot of people thought that New York would lose two seats, but they lost only one; thought Rhode Island and Minnesota would lose a seat, but they didn’t lose any. People thought Arizona would gain a seat, but it didn’t gain a seat.”

New York, he explains, fell just 89 people short of its census count to keep the seat its losing.

“And then add this other layer in: The census numbers were due basically the beginning of April last year, and New York was hardest hit by COVID at that point in time. So in a weird way, the COVID deaths that hit New York disproportionately could have influenced the loss of its congressional seat,” he said.

State lawmakers OK controversial capital gains tax, court battle expected

From the 2020 census, we’ve also learned that the United States saw the second slowest population growth in history since the Great Depression.

“We have less in migration of immigrants. We have fewer people giving birth than they had in terms of the numbers of birth at that point,” Steinhorn said. “And so, yes, it’s slowing down, but it’s also slowing down in large parts of Western Europe and other industrialized countries. So it’s not as if we’re seeing all that different a pattern in the United States than we are in parts of Europe.”

“So fewer people giving birth, less immigration, and that does really slow down the number of people who were counted in the census,” he added. “It’s a bit of a reckoning with the United States, particularly because as the baby boom generation ages and as life expectancy grows, you may have a smaller labor pool to be able to support the people who are older, in need of health care, and in need of financial support through Social Security. So that does add pressure to our country in a way that we haven’t thought about in a while, but it’s going to be very real and very tangible in the years ahead.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM, and on your smart speaker as well. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Most Popular