First the news, then the fireworks. Census 2010 begins with fact-gathering and will end with a blast of partisanship. Early predictions from the National Conference of State Legislatures show eight states will lose seats in the U.S. House. Five states will gain seats. That last number doesn’t include Utah, which could pick up a seat by virtue of an extra-constitutional bill giving a House seat to the District of Columbia.
The big winner is expected to be Texas. This red state, also a winner after the 2000 census, could pick up three seats. The blue states of New York, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania each will lose a seat. Other potential winners (seat pickups) include Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Nevada. Other potential losers are Ohio and Louisiana. The most startling conclusion from this forecast, based on population trends from 2000 to 2008, is that California won’t gain a seat for the first time since it became a state in 1850. It would still have the largest House delegation at 53 seats (and 55 Electoral College votes), while the Texas delegation would swell from 32 to 35. Oklahoma isn’t expected to lose a seat, as it did after the 2000 reapportionment. Nor would it gain one. The headlining census story for this state is how redistricting will affect the Legislature — it’s expected to be more urban/suburban than ever — and how that change will affect public policy. Stay tuned for the news. Then sit back and enjoy the fireworks.