The results of the 2020 census are in, and they portend an uphill struggle for Democrats to retain power in Washington D.C. With New York and California each losing a seat in the House of Representatives, while Texas gains two and Florida one, it seems that political power in the United States is beginning a long swinging arc toward the south.
Now that the once in a decade figures have been announced, the starting pistol on redistricting has been fired. Democrats holding a razor-thin majority in the House will have to work twice as hard to keep hold of that margin.
According to the Census Bureau, the total U.S. population now stands at 331,449,281, which is an increase of 7.4% since the last census in 2010. This is one of the slowest growth periods on record. The 435 House seats are split between the 50 states based on population figures, with a proviso that each state has at least one seat.
The recent exodus of residents from both New York and California to more southerly states will directly impact the balance of power come 2022 as the release of the census data officially kicks off the process of each state’s redistricting efforts.
Redistricting is the process by which states redraw electoral district boundaries. When there is a change in the population levels, state governments begin the process of essentially redesigning which areas fall into which catchment zones. Because the population has grown more rapidly in largely red states over the last ten-year period, it is Republicans who will be in charge of the majority of redistricting efforts. As Liberty Nation reported on the upcoming process:
“With a potential 181 congressional districts ready for a Republican massage, Democrats will be staring at their estimated 74 redistricting opportunities with dismay. Although the recent census may change these numbers a little, the advantage for the minority party this time around seems all but assured to upset the balance of power and destroy President Joe Biden’s trifecta.”
The following numbers represent the changes in House seats that will take place before the 2022 election:
- New York: -1
- California: -1
- Illinois: -1
- Michigan: -1
- Ohio: -1
- Pennsylvania: -1
- West Virginia: -1
- Texas: +2
- Florida: +1
- North Carolina: +1
- Montana: +1
- Oregon: +1
- Colorado: +1
Of the states that will gain seats, four went for President Trump in the 2020 election. Of the seven that will lose a seat, five voted for then-candidate Biden. Although this would have had little impact on the Electoral College outcome, in terms of Democrats maintaining a House majority, things just got a lot tougher.
Democrats are caught between a rock and a hard place. Not only will there be fewer seats available in traditionally blue states, but the redistricting will also heavily favor Republicans this time around.
The executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust, Adam Kincaid, posited that Democrats would gain somewhere between five and 15 safe seats by the end of the entire process. In contrast, Republicans should be looking at between 20 and 30.
Kyle Kondik, an election analyst at the University of Virginia, said, “I’d expect, just from reapportionment, the Republicans to win a few seats.” With just a handful of representatives difference between the GOP and the Dems, the majority could easily become the minority.
At present, Democrats in Congress are reliant on Vice President Kamala Harris to cast the deciding vote in the Senate. With a number of highly partisan bills receiving precisely zero Republican support in the House, President Biden’s party has a narrow window of opportunity to pass legislation.
Any lasting legacy that this Congress, or indeed this president, hopes to build will need to be achieved at breakneck speed. If the ultimate fallout of this census is that Democrats lose their majority in the House after the 2022 election, all bills become a tennis match between the upper and lower chambers. If only someone in power had thought to actually try bipartisanship and unity instead of merely talking about it.
Read more from Mark Angelides.