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Archive for December 1st, 2008

Beyond 2010 census: Will redistricting help Democrats? (Hint: Maybe not.)

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Beginning in 2010, the number 722,000 will rule state-by-state congressional politics. When the Census Bureau finishes counting Americans, it’s expected to find that the U.S. population will have increased from about 281 million in 2000 to 315 million. Many states will face reapportionment based on about 722,000 residents per district — gaining or losing seats in the House of Representatives according to the states’ populations as determined by the 2010 census.

State populations in the South and Southwest will have grown appreciably more than in the Midwest and Northeast, reflecting immigration and migration trends that took root after World War II. Consequently, the shift of political power from the latter to the former will continue (see map). For example, the population of California, the most populous state in the union and larger than all but 34 nations, will grow nearly 8 percent from 2000 to 2010 — but California will lose a seat in the House.

Following redistricting is important because reapportionment and redistricting may shift power in the House of Representatives. How great a shift depends on an intricate political calculus involving party control of legislatures and governorships.

This decennial dance may determine which party is best positioned to retain or regain control of the House following 2012 elections. That’s why Howard Dean, chair of the Democratic National Committee, pushed his “50-State Strategy” to rule as many state legislatures as possible to take control of mapping new congressional district boundaries. The Democrats now control both chambers in 27 states. But did it really work? In the 21 states expected to gain or lose House seats, 16 seats are at issue with the GOP holding the upper hand for more than half.

In this post, S&R examines states likely to lose or gain House seats through reapportionment and the role and influence of state legislatures and governors in redistricting.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

December 1, 2008 at 11:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized