The nation's political center of gravity shifted farther to the Republican-led South and West on Monday, with Texas, Florida, and other Sun Belt states gaining congressional seats while chillier climes like New York and Ohio lost them. Altogether, the US population rose to 331,449,281, the Census Bureau said, a 7.4% increase that was the second-slowest ever. The new allocation of congressional seats came in the Census Bureau's first release of data from a 2020 headcount, the AP reports. The numbers chart familiar migration patterns and confirm one historic marker: For the first time in 170 years of statehood, California is losing a congressional seat, a result of slowed migration to the nation's most populous state, which was once a symbol of the country's expansive frontier. The census release marks the official beginning of the once-a-decade redistricting battles. The numbers released Monday, along with more detailed data expected later this year, will be used by state legislatures or independent commissions to redraw political maps to account for shifts in population.
Those shifts have largely been west. Colorado, Montana, and Oregon added residents and gained seats. Texas was the biggest winner—the second-most populous state added two congressional seats, while Florida and North Carolina gained one. States losing seats included Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The reshuffling moved seats from blue states to red ones, giving Republicans a clear, immediate advantage. The party will have complete control of drawing congressional maps in Texas, Florida, and North Carolina. In contrast, though Democrats control the process in Oregon, Democratic lawmakers there agreed to give Republicans an equal say in redistricting in exchange for a commitment to stop blocking bills. In Democratic Colorado, a nonpartisan commission will draw the lines. In the long term, it's not clear if the migration helps Republicans. "What's happening is growth in Sunbelt states that are trending Democratic or will soon trend Democratic," said a demographer at the Brookings Institution.
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