May 6, 2021

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U.S. Census data released Monday will shift political power in Congress, reapportioning two House seats to Texas and one each to Florida, North Carolina, Oregon, Colorado, and Montana — and stripping a seat from California (for the first time ever), New York (barely!), Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and West Virginia. Florida, Texas, and Arizona — each controlled entirely by Republicans — had been expecting to pick up an additional seat.

“On balance, I think this reapportionment offers a small boost for Republicans, but the bigger boost is likely to come from how Republicans draw these seats in Florida, Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia,” the Cook Political Report‘s Dave Wasserman tells Axios. “Reapportionment itself means little compared to the redistricting fights to come.” It won’t exactly be a level playing field.

“Republicans control the redistricting process in far more states than do Democrats, because of GOP dominance in down-ballot elections,” The New York Times reports. “Democrats, meanwhile, have shifted redistricting decisions in states where they have controlled the government — such as California, Colorado, and Virginia — to independent commissions intended to create fair maps.”

“The good news for Democrats: They have more control over the process than they did in 2010, the last time the lines were drawn,” Wasserman’s colleague Amy Walters tells PBS NewsHour. “The bad news for Democrats, the good news for Republicans, is that Republicans still control more than twice as many congressional district lines.” And Oregon, controlled by Democrats, will probably add a GOP seat under a power-sharing deal with the Republican minority.

In Texas, where the population gains came from Hispanic and Asian residents and out-of-staters moving to Houston, Austin, Dallas, and other Democrat-leaning urban centers, the GOP legislature will make both new congressional districts Republican, Wasserman predicts. In fact, Republicans “could conceivably pick up all five seats they need” to take control of the House from drawing favorable districts in just Texas, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, he adds. The estimates will change, “but right now, Republicans might expect to gain between zero and eight House seats via map changes.” Peter Weber

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