Through a series of articles we call The State, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Advocacy and Political Affairs team is providing analysis related to "the state of" advocacy and political trends impacting farmers, ranchers and other rural Americans.
The trove of data from the much-delayed U.S. census is starting to be unveiled, revealing, in terms of politics, which states are winners and which are losers with the reapportionment of 435 House seats in Congress. Early projections showed several states in play, but the late-April announcement by the U.S. Census Bureau had far fewer states impacted than originally estimated.
First Step: Reapportionment
Six states are gaining seats, with Texas seen as the biggest winner, gaining two additional congressional seats. Five other states will have one additional representative: North Carolina and Florida on the Eastern seaboard, along with Oregon, Montana and Colorado out West. This shift in congressional representation continues a multi-decade trend of the U.S. population moving toward the Southern and Western states – and away from the Northeast and the upper Midwest.
The U.S. Census Bureau made headlines in announcing that California, which has the largest delegation in Congress with 53 representatives, would be giving up a congressional seat for the very first time since entering the union.
Other states losing a congressional seat include Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New York.
Next Step: Redistricting
The U.S. Census Bureau is expected to release additional data by September that includes demographic and population density within each state. This information will allow states to begin redrawing federal and state legislative districts, although some states will use the preliminary data to start the redistricting process.
How congressional districts are redrawn varies widely between states. For many, the majority party in the state legislature will have the chance to pour over population figures and redraw the lines. Republican majorities in many states will give the GOP an advantage in redrawing congressional districts, especially in key battleground states like Pennsylvania, Florida and Texas.
Democratic-controlled legislatures in New York and Illinois will be overseeing similar efforts. California, a Democratic-majority state, will for the first time attempt to use a commission to oversee the effort to keep the newly minted districts out of the courts.
No matter who is responsible for redrawing the districts for 2022, they are already behind schedule and have no time to waste. Texas, Illinois and North Carolina all have March primaries on the books. Incumbents and potential opponents at all levels of government want to know what the new districts’ geography and voter makeup will be in order to put a winning campaign together.
Final Step: 2022 Midterm Elections
Reapportionment and redistricting will have a decade-long election impact. For the next 10 years, voters could be assigned to new congressional, state legislative, county and local districts in which they will choose their representatives for all levels of government. For national purposes, the 2022 midterm elections will be the first of the Biden era and the first since the 2020 census with changes to congressional districts.
Supplement: U.S. Census Data
Additional details unveiled by the U.S. Census Bureau include:
- The U.S. population is calculated to be just shy of 332 million
- This is a growth rate of 7.4% from 2010 and the smallest 10-year increase since 1930
- With an 18.4% increase, Utah is the fastest growing state
- With a 3.4% decrease, West Virginia experienced the greatest loss of population
- With over 39 million residents, California is the most populous state
- Wyoming has the fewest residents – 576,000
- The average number of constituents per congressional district will rise from 710,000 to 761,000 in 2022
- There will be six states with at-large representation in 2022 as opposed to seven now
Randy Dwyer is AFBF’s director of advocacy and grassroots development