Twelve Congressional seats will be shifting states in time for the 2012 elections, according to figures released today by the 2010 U.S. Census, and the most seats are coming to Texas.
As Commerce Undersecretary Rebecca Blank said today, as the decennial Census data was released, the Census has from its beginning been intended as a tool of political empowerment.
The United States cannot truly be a representative government without knowing how to fairly apportion, and re-apportion, that representation, Blank said.
The great American democracy renews itself through the Census, she said.
Eighteen states are involved in the reapportionment, with 8 states gaining seats and 10 losing them.
The largest gainer is Texas, which has been gaining seats in the House of Representatives since 1950, and this time, with 4 seats, it gained the most from one Census in over 100 years.
Florida gained 2 seats. Six states - Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington - gained a single seat.
On the other side of the ledger, New York, which has been losing House seats since 1950, lost 2 seats this time, as did Ohio. Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, each lost a seat.
The only state to actually lose population was Michigan, losing over 50,000 persons since 2000.
For the first time since 1920, California will add no Congressional seats as a result of the Census. The state has by far the most Representatives with 53. Texas is second, now with 36, and Florida now ties New York for third, with 27 seats. Seven U.S. states have one seat.
Once the reapportionment figures have been certified by Congress, which will happen in January, the statistics will be used by the individual states to redistrict for U.S. House representation, and for state and local governing jurisdictions.
When asked if Hurricane Katrina was a reason for Louisiana losing a seat, Census Director Robert Groves said that the Census was not yet attaching reasons for the shifts in populations relating to apportionment.
As Mark Mather, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, a private firm in Washington that analyzes census data, explained, the number of seats apportioned to the states can have an effect on presidential races because they are used to determine representation in the electoral college.
The way the electoral college works is that, whichever presidential candidate wins the state, all the electoral votes of that state go to that candidate, Mather said.
Therefore if a state that traditionally votes Republican, like Texas, gains in population and Congressional seats, it will also gain in Electoral College seats and will able to, if it holds true and goes Republican, deliver more electoral votes to the GOP candidate.
Because the gains in seats were in the south and the west, and not in Democratic strongholds of the west, analysts are saying that the reapportionment will favor Republicans.
Presidential Secretary Robert Gibbs, looking forward to President Obama's re-election bid in 2012, downplayed the significance of some changing House and Electoral College seats, saying that such redistribution should not be an insurmountable obstacle for a sound political campaign.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke said that Census data will also figure into how approximately $400 billion in federal money will be distributed to the states.
That does not mean a one-shot distribution of that sum, Mather explained.
Many of the various federal programs that are run through and by the states - nutrition programs, education programs, crime prevention programs, etc -- how much funding they receive is determined by formulas that include the state's population, Mather said. So, these figures for the states are important, and they will continue to be used for the next 10 years.