New Yorkers Get a Lesson on Returning Census Forms

If only 89 more people had returned 2020 forms, state would not have lost a House seat
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2021 9:06 AM CDT
New York Lost a House Seat by Insanely Small Margin
New York lost a congressional seat by the slimmest of margins.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

New census numbers released Monday show that US population growth has slowed significantly in the last decade. The numbers also confirm that the population continues to shift to the West and the South and away from the Northeast and the Midwest, notes Intelligencer. A look at some of the other key takeaways:

  • Six winners: Texas will gain two House seats after the 2022 election, while five other states gain one: Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon.
  • Seven losers: Seven states will lose a House seat: California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
  • So close: The census counted New York's population as 20,215,751. If only 89 more people had returned their census forms, the state would not have lost a congressional seat, reports the New York Times. Instead, Minnesota would have. It's the smallest such margin in modern times.

  • Bragging rights: At the Washington Post, Aaron Blake writes that Texas "continues to be the winner among winners," even though it gained only two seats instead of the expected three. Big picture: Its delegation has grown from 26 in 1980 to 38, with much of the increase thanks to a surge in residents of color, especially Hispanics, per the Texas Tribune. The state gained more residents than any other state in the last decade, going from 25.1 million in 2010 to 29.1 million in 2020.
  • Others: New York, by contrast, has dropped from 45 seats in the 1940s to 26. Florida now has a bigger delegation than New York, with 28 seats, moving into sole possession of third place. California, meanwhile, lost a seat for the first time, per the Sacramento Bee. It will now have 52, still more than any other state.
  • A contrast: The numbers illustrate the ascent of the South and the West, writes Chris Cillizza at CNN. All six states that gained seats "are in the two regions of the country that we have seen grow fastest over the past three decades," he writes. And of the "13 states that have gained seats in reapportionment since the 2000 census, all 13 are in either the South or the West." The Rust Belt, by contrast, continues to lose seats. Six of the seven states that lost seats are in this region, notes the Hill.
  • Rhode Island surprise: The smallest state by area in the nation defied expectations and kept both its House seats. CNN's Cillizza calls this "maybe the biggest surprise" of the new data. The state's existing representatives would have had to face off to keep the single seat.
  • What to watch: Generally, forecasters expected a shift of 10 congressional seats instead of the seven that emerged, Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report tells Axios. Another wrinkle: "Reapportionment itself means little compared to the redistricting fights to come," he says. "The bigger shift in House seats are likely to come from how districts are drawn, not how many districts each state gets."
(Read more US Census stories.)

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