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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Skelley and Rakich: Census Threatens Dems’ Edge In Midterms

Geoffrey Skelley and Nathaniel Rakich sort out ” Which States Won — and Lost — Seats in the 2020 Census” at FiveThirtyEight:

On Monday afternoon, the U.S. Census Bureau announced how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House for the next 10 years — a once-in-a-decade process called reapportionment. In total, five states will gain one House seat each starting with the 2022 elections — and Texas even added two. But for every seat these states gained, another state had to lose one — and indeed, seven states lost one congressional district each.

Overall, the gains and losses following the 2020 census largely continue a pattern in recent decades whereby states in the Midwest and Northeast have lost seats because their population growth has stagnated, while states in the South and West have mostly gained seats because their populations have boomed. (There is one exception to this overarching trend: California actually lost ground for the first time in its history.)

Texas is on track to pick up 2 seats as a result of the census, while FL, NC, CO, OR and MT will each gain a seat. California, NY, IL, PA, OH, MI and WV each lost a seat. Worse, “As a result, we can now say with finality that Republicans will control the redrawing of 187 congressional districts (43 percent) — or 2.5 times as many as Democrats (who will redraw 75 districts, or 17 percent).” In adddition,

There are also 167 districts (38 percent) where neither party will enjoy exclusive control over redistricting (either because of independent commissions or split partisan control). And, of course, there are six districts (1 percent) that won’t need to be drawn at all (because they are at-large districts that cover their entire state).

But just because most of the states that are gaining seats are red and most of the states that are losing them are blue does not necessarily mean that reapportionment will help Republicans — in the House, at least.1 That’s because many of the fastest-growing areas of red states are increasingly Democratic, so it matters a lot how the new districts will be drawn.

Skelley and Rakich also note, “The three most populous states to gain seats are Texas, Florida and North Carolina, and in each, Republicans will control the redistricting process. For the first time in decades, they won’t have to seek preclearance from the Justice Department either before implementing their maps thanks to the 2013 Supreme Court decision that struck down part of the Voting Rights Act. That, in turn, could open the door for more extreme gerrymandering in these states, which historically disenfranchised voters of color. “

The share a summary of the emerging political demographics and redistricting process in each affected state, and conclude:

Of course, we’re a long way from knowing the full political ramifications of redistricting, as the 31 other states that didn’t lose or gain a seat and will have more than one representative will also have to redraw their congressional lines. We also don’t know how the 13 states we’ve examined here will draw their maps. But today’s announcement of the reapportionment numbers marks the first step toward knowing what the lay of the land will be ahead of the 2022 election.

All in all, it’s a tough redistricting map ahead for Democrats, which makes Biden’s success even more critical for Democratic prospects in the 2022 midterm elections.

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