Things That Matter

The Census Results Are In And Things Don’t Look Great For California & Other States

Between 2010 and 2020, the United States experienced its second slowest growth rate in history. Although the country’s population has surpassed 331 million people for the first time, several states saw declining population numbers and will see their representation in Congress cut.

Did your state grow between 2010 and 2020? Or will it lose a seat in the House of Representatives? Here’s what you need to know.

The U.S. Census data is in and it’s a mixed bag for many states.

Perhaps the biggest news from the census data is that the country’s most populous state, California, will lose a seat in the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, several southern states (those that typically vote Republican) will gain representation as Texas adds two Congressional seats and Florida and North Carolina add one each.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s acting director, Ron Jarmin, reported the new state population counts at a virtual news conference. The long-awaited announcement has reset the balance of power for the next decade in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College, where each state’s share of votes is tied to its census numbers.

Other states that will see their representation shift include Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, New York, Michigan, and West Virginia, all of which will lose one seat. Oregon, Colorado and Montana will add a seat.

What does this mean for elections moving forward?

This data shows that the nation’s political center of gravity keeps shifting further to the Republican-led South and West. The census release marks the official beginning of the once-a-decade redistricting battles. The numbers released Monday, along with more detailed data expected later this year, will be used by state legislatures or independent commissions to redraw political maps to account for shifts in population.

Meanwhile, Americans continue to move to GOP-run states. For now, that shift provides the Republicans with the opportunity to shape new congressional districts to maximize the influence of their voters and have a major advantage in upcoming elections—possibly enough to win back control of the U.S. House.

But in the long term, it’s not clear the migration is good news for Republicans. Many of the fastest-growing states are increasingly competitive political battlegrounds where the new arrivals —including many young people and people of color— could at some point give Democrats an edge.

Do we know more about the demographic makeup of the country?

Not yet, that data will be released during the second census announcement later this year. The bureau plans to start releasing this information by Aug. 16. This data will also used to guide the distribution of an estimated $1.5 trillion a year in federal money for Medicare, Medicaid, education and other public services for local communities.

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