The NCSL Blog

15

By Wendy Underhill

By New Year's Eve, 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau will transmit to the president the nation’s total population count, based on the 2020 Census. With that big number comes the “apportionment totals” which show which states gain or lose seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Census worker knocking on doorWe don’t have to wait that long to have a pretty good idea of gainers and losers, especially with projections done by Clark Bensen of Polidata and Kim Brace of Election Data Services.

These longtime friends of NCSL each use state population estimates released by the Census Bureau at the end of every year to make projections for apportionment based on their own formulas.

Things can change, of course, as data from 2019 comes in and then the real enumeration beings April 1, 2020. With that caveat, here are the projections from Election Data Services:

GAINING

LOSING

AZ +1 (from 9 to 10)

AL -1 (from 7 to 6)

CO +1 (from 7 to 8)

CA -1 or even (from 53 to 52 or no change)

 

FL +2 (from 27 to 29)

IL -1 (from 18 to 17)

MT even or +1 (from 1 to 2 or no change)

MI -1 (from 14 to 13)

NC +1 (from 13 to 14)

MN -1 or even (from 8 to 7 or no change)

OR +1 (from 5 to 6)

NY -2 (from 27 to 25)

TX +2 or 3 (from 36 to 38 or 39)

OH -1 (from 16 to 15)        

 

PA -1 (from 18 to 17)

 

RI – 1 (from 2 to 1)

 

Polidata’s apportionment data is very similar, although not identical. In addition to showing gainers and losers, it shows that the closest seats just above the cutoff are New York (projected to seat 433), Texas (434) and Montana (claiming the 435th and last seat—if predictions hold).

The closest seats just below the cutoff are Minnesota at 436, California at 437 and Alabama at 438.

These estimates are potentially motivating for states. If your state is on the cusp, what can it do? Incentivizing enough new folks to move to a state to change apportionment is all but a pipe dream. It is possible, though, for states to encourage their residents to cooperate with the census and thus get the fullest count possible.

Responding to the census is required by law, but it helps if people do so willingly, and they’re more willing if they know what’s going on and why it matters. Because some people are harder to count than others, if the states can help encourage them, it may lead to a more accurate reflection of the count. NCSL’s Census Resources and Legislation webpage has ideas on how to encourage those responses.

No surprise, then, that some states, such as California, Georgia, Michigan Minnesota and New York are putting money into their own statewide GOTC (get out the count) efforts. Maybe, others are too? If you know, I want to know!

Wendy Underhill is NCSL’s director for elections and redistricting.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.