The Census Bureau announced Monday seven House seats will shift as a result of the 2020 Census, many moving to Republican-leaning states and exiting states that tend to vote Democrat.
That scenario could affect whether Democrats can hold on to their narrow advantage in the House in the 2022 midterm elections.
The House has 435 seats based on population. Every decade, as population shifts, the allotment of seats for each state may change based on updated data collected by the Census Bureau. States that grow may gain House members, at the expense of shrinking states.
That happened this year: Texas gained two seats with Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon adding one each. Seven states each lost a seat as a result: California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Here’s what happened in 2020 and how it may come into play when voters go to the booth next year to elect their House members:
The Democrats have a narrow six-member margin in the current House of Representatives, meaning if just a handful of seats flip, Republicans can regain control of the House.
Democrats’ advantage will grow to seven when Troy Carter is sworn in to fill a seat in Louisiana’s delegation left vacant by Cedric Richmond, who left the House to join the Biden administration as the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
States that gained seats were mostly Republican-leaning, with Texas, Florida, Montana and North Carolina each voting for former President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. North Carolina was one of the closer races, with Trump defeating President Joe Biden by less than 1.5%. Oregon and Colorado, meanwhile, were solidly blue states in the last election.
States that lost seats were mostly Democratic, but consist of more close battleground states. California, Illinois and New York were solidly in Biden’s column; Michigan and Pennsylvania were closer swing states with slim margins for the president. Trump prevailed in Ohio and West Virginia.
The number of residents represented by each House member will mostly grow in 2022, though it will decrease per representative in some states.
Since Montana gained a representative, its two House members will now split the state’s population currently represented by Rep. Matt Rosendale, a Republican. The addition of another House seat means Montana’s House members will represent the least amount of people compared to House members in other states.
Delaware’s sole House district, currently held by Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, will be the largest in terms of population.
Thirteen states were affected by the 2020 Census’ shift in congressional seats.
States are given the task of redrawing districts when they gain or lose seats.
Michael Li, senior counsel for the non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program, said the country could be poised for a battle over gerrymandering, the practice of redrawing district lines to favor one party over the other or to suppress the vote of communities of color.
In some states, the process is fairer than others, he said, because they are not controlled by just one political party or they have instituted an independent redistricting committee, such as in Michigan. But for other states, the party in power stands to control the map.
The U.S. population has increased by 7.4% since the last Census, to a total of 331,449,281 people.
California is the most populous state with 39,538,223 people, while Wyoming is the smallest state at 576,851 people.
Utah was the state with the fastest growing population over the last decade, increasing by 18.4%, while West Virginia had the most population loss, dipping 3.2%.