The NCSL Blog

14

By Ben Williams

With only weeks to go before the 2020 census begins, the Census Bureau has released its population estimates for 2019. 

Census formBased on surveys conducted among samples of the public, these estimates enable demographers and data scientists to project the number of congressional seats (and, accordingly, Electoral College votes) states will gain or lose in 2020.

While these numbers are not final, there is general agreement on which states will see their allotment of congressional seats change.

Two data services firms, Polidata and Election Data Services, both project the following states to gain and lose seats:

GAINING

LOSING

Arizona +1 (from 9 to 10)

Alabama -1 (from 7 to 6)

Colorado +1 (from 7 to 8)

California -1 (from 53 to 52)

Florida +2 (from 27 to 29)

Illinois -1 (from 18 to 17)

Montana +1 (from 1 to 2)

Michigan -1 (from 14 to 13)

North Carolina +1 (from 13 to 14)

Minnesota -1 (from 8 to 7)

Oregon +1 (from 5 to 6)

New York -1 (from 27 to 26)

Texas +3 (from 36 to 39)

Ohio -1 (from 16 to 15)

 

Pennsylvania -1 (from 18 to 17)

 

Rhode Island -1 (from 2 to 1)

 

West Virginia -1 (from 3 to 2)

Source: Election Data Services/Polidata

The biggest gainer would be Texas, which is projected to gain three seats. This would bring the Lone Star State within 13 seats of tying California for the most representatives. The Golden State, meanwhile, is projected to lose a congressional seat for the first time in its history, though its status as the largest population center in the nation is likely secure for the coming decade. The projections would give Florida the third-most congressional seats in the nation, surpassing New York state in congressional representation for the first time.

No state is projected to lose more than one congressional seat. Of the 10 states losing a seat, all but Alabama and California are in the Northeast or Midwest. This trend of Americans moving south and west dates to the founding, and can be seen on this map released by the Census Bureau:

Credit: U.S. Census Bureau

Ultimately, only the Census Bureau’s enumeration next year will tell us exactly how congressional seats will be reapportioned; these are estimates.

Additionally, these new numbers will have no impact on 2020 elections—the updated congressional seat totals will be used for the first time in 2022, and the updated Electoral College votes in 2024.

 For now, states can’t do much to protect their allotment of congressional seats other than to ensure that every person in their state is counted. For more information on state action on this issue, see NCSL’s census webpage on efforts states are taking to ensure no person goes uncounted.

Polidata and Election Data Services are sponsors of NCSL’s redistricting seminars.

Ben Williams is a policy specialist in NCSL’s Elections and Redistricting Program.

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Posted in: Elections, Census
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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.