The U.S. Census Bureau on Monday will announce the results of the 2020 population count, which will determine the number of seats in the House of Representatives and potentially shift the power that some states have in the federal government.
Several states, according to estimated numbers from the political consulting firm Election Data Services, are on the bubble to potentially gain or lose members based on population shifts within the country. Among the biggest predicted winners are Florida and Texas, set to gain two and three seats respectively, while states including California and New York are expected to lose at least one seat each.
In addition to affecting the House members each state may elect, Monday’s numbers will also affect the number of Electoral College votes per state during presidential elections. Electoral College votes are assigned based on the number of House members each state has plus its two senators.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will see the results of the 2020 Census first on Monday, before transmitting them to President Biden. (Getty Images)
Election Data Services’ analysis, published in December, also predicted that Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will each gain one House seat each.
Meanwhile, Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia are on the hot seat to lose one member of Congress each.
Among that group, Alabama is the state closest to potentially not losing a seat and staying at its current level. New York, meanwhile, is on the line of potentially losing either one or two seats, making the results in those two states likely interrelated, according to Election Data Services.
According to the Census Bureau, it will deliver its results first to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who will transmit them to President Biden. After Biden has the results, the Census Bureau will release the results to the public in a news conference.
The Census Bureau was initially supposed to deliver these numbers earlier this year. But delayed counts due to the coronavirus and natural disasters forced the government to push back the deadline.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at the California justice department on Sept. 18, 2019 in Sacramento, California. Newsom’s state has seen a population exodus in recent years, with many blaming high taxes and a high cost of living on Democratic leadership. That could cost the state a seat in the House of Representatives when the results of the 2020 Census come out Monday. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The numbers released Monday, according to the Census Bureau, will include not only the population counts of each state but also data tables including the number of House representatives each state will be entitled to. It will also release a map with the same data.
Once the official numbers are released, states will enter a mad dash to redraw their congressional districts before the 2022 midterm elections, which are likely to tip off fights over gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is the practice of state legislatures drawing congressional districts to favor members of their own party, strategically deciding which voters to put in which district.
Even in states that are expected to keep the same number of representatives, legislatures and governors will likely need to shift the lines of their congressional districts to account for any intra-state population shifts. This could still lead to gerrymandering fights, especially in states where the governor and the majorities in the state legislature are of different parties.
“They’re probably going to try to fight it and push another gerrymandered unfair map,” Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan told Fox News earlier this year, referring to his state’s Democratic-controlled legislature. “But we’re going to probably end up in court. And I believe that we will prevail and we’ll have a more competitive situation with fair districts that are compact and contiguous and that will make more sense.”
The swings will affect voters in the smallest states the most.
Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., is seen during a group photo with freshmen members of the House Republican Conference on the House steps of the Capitol on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. Rosendale is Montana’s only House member, but that could change when the Census Bureau releases the results of the 2020 Census Monday. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Montana and Rhode Island, for example, have similar populations at just over 1 million people each. That means currently each of the two House members in Rhode Island represents just over 500,000 people. Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., his state’s lone House member, represents about double that number.
The average Rhode Islander’s vote, therefore, has about twice the influence in the House than the average Montanan’s vote.
That situation could reverse Monday.
It is normal for states that lose population — or even see their population increase but not as quickly as other states — to lose House seats. But it sometimes complicates states’ internal operations more than just in how to select their congressmen and congresswomen.
There’s currently a case at the Mississippi Supreme Court over a quirk in state law based on the fact it lost a congressional district in the 2000 Census.
Mississippi only gets four House representatives. But its state law reflects the five congressional districts it had two decades ago for the purpose of collecting signatures for ballot measures like the one that legalized medical marijuana there in November. Now the ballot measure is under fire as potentially unconstitutional because of that technicality.
Some states have never lost congressional districts in their history, including California. But residents fleeing a high cost of living, high taxes and more could deal the state its first such blow since it became a state in 1850.
Fox News’ Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.
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