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Early census analysis: California, New York could lose House representatives

U.S. House of Representatives congress
Posted at 9:25 AM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 11:25:38-05

An early analysis of census data shows California and New York may lose a seat in the House, while Florida would gain two. This could mean Florida in the near future would have more electoral votes than New York.

The analysis was done by William Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, a nonprofit public policy organization, based on population estimates from mid-2020 released by the Census Bureau.

Frey said the estimates released by the Census Bureau show that between July 2019 and July 2020, the population in the U.S. grew by .35%. That’s the lowest annual population growth rate since the turn of the last century, and that could mean the decade 2010-2020 may have the lowest decade growth rate in centuries.

This low rate of growth and some “educated estimates” from Frey on new state-level data, could mean that seven states gain representatives in Congress and ten states lose some.

One result of the Census is calculating the number of seats in the House of Representatives a state should have. Every decade, the Census Bureau adjusts the number of seats each state receives based on changes in population, the process is called reapportionment.

Frey estimates that Texas will gain three representatives in the House, Florida wil gain two, and Arizona, Montana, Colorado, North Carolina and Oregon will gain one. Meanwhile, Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Rhode Island could all lose one representative, according to Frey’s estimates.

Changing the number of seats in the House also changes how many votes the state gets in the Electoral College; electoral votes are the number of seats a state has in the House plus two senators.

California currently has 55 electoral votes, with the next highest as Texas with 38 votes currently. New York and Florida are next, with 29 each; if New York were to lose one and Florida gain two, it would be the first time Florida had more votes than New York and would make Florida the third most represented state in the House.

“This reapportionment will also affect the Electoral College in future presidential elections. There are a mix of “red” and “blue” states among those gaining and losing seats. Thus, it is difficult to predict how these changes will benefit future Republican and Democratic presidential candidates,” Frey wrote in his analysis.

Frey’s estimates are based on early data shared by the Census Bureau. The complete 2020 Census will not be released until sometime early next year.