All politics is people

Usat-map

The last part of my day was completely blown after I stumbled across this awesome USA Today interactive graphic showing the apportionment of congressional seats back to the first Congress. The map shows what the Census Bureau estimates will be the distribution of House seats after the 2020 and 2030 reapportionments.

Several things struck me as very interesting. First, California is basically done adding House seat; Census predicts it’ll add only two more by 2030, and none after the 2010 reapportionment.  Texas and Florida grow a bit more, but by and large the big shift of House seats to the Sunbelt states is done.  There’s a bit more growth coming to these states, but small in comparison to past 40 years.

What this means for congressional and electoral politics is anyone’s guess.  I don’t think it’s a given that demographics guarantee a more liberal Southwest. And even if it does, it’s not hard to imagine Pennsylvania, Michigan and the upper Midwest growing more conservative at the same time. 

And there are plenty of wildcards that could shift population away from the Sunbelt.  Climate scientists predict more heat and less rain and snow in the Southwest, which could drive migration away from Arizona, Southern California and Nevada back to the Midwest, Northeast or Southeast.

Postscript: In clicking through the USAT map, I saw that the total number of House seats declined after the 1840 Census. That led me into the weird history of apportionment and the debate over formulas that dates back to Jefferson and Hamilton. I’ve only scratched the surface, but there’s some interesting background at NationalAtlas.gov, Wikipedia, and Census.gov.

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