The Impact of U.S. Demographic Flows on Congressional Seats

The demographic shifts in the U.S. over the past decade have resulted in a number of states facing major reshuffles in their congressional membership. Reapportionment is the process that determines how seats in the House of Representatives are allocated to the 50 states. This process takes place every ten years, after the results of the decennial U.S. Census have been counted.

The 2020 population count has been completed, a little late because of the pandemic.

Seven states, including California, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York, will lose a seat in Congress.

Oregon, Montana, Colorado, North Carolina and Florida would all gain one seat, while Texas would gain two seats.

Jacob Rubashkin, a reporter and analyst for the nonpartisan political analysis website ‘Election Insider,’ said, “As people continue to move west from the East Coast, these states have been growing in population, expanding their political power and influence over the past century.”

Jacob Rubashkin is a reporter and analyst for the nonpartisan political analysis website ‘Election Insider’.

Rubashkin said, “The Supreme Court has ruled that the population numbers of congressional districts within states must be close to each other, which really means as close as possible, and we’re talking about states trying to be between one and two people apart.”

Redistricting has other rules to prevent what is called unfair gerrymandering, which means drawing district lines to benefit a particular party.

Gerrymandering must be coherent, and a district cannot start in one place but suddenly break off and then magically appear on the other side of the state,” Rubashkin said. There are also federal Voting Rights Act considerations, and districts must provide opportunities for minority populations to be represented by people from their own communities coming out.”

The power to redraw district lines rests largely with state legislatures, where Republicans control a majority of the fifty state legislatures, including the three states where seats have been added.

That fuels their hopes of winning back the House in 2022. Rubashkin said, “So while we can learn from the redistricting process that has just been completed, there are many questions that remain to be answered before we have a full picture of the situation in the 2022 midterm elections.”