The Winners and the Losers: Census 2020 and Redistricting

by Eli Mshomi

As the 2020 census results are finally out after a gap of an entire year, these results are about to impact the crucial election data, including redistricting.

This data is traditionally used to decide the number of House seats, ultimately affecting electoral college votes of the states for a redistricting cycle of ten years. 

A new redistricting cycle will be formed based on population data given by the Census bureau. Different states have different rules of redistricting that are used in collaboration with the census data to form new legislative districts. 

New legislative and congressional maps can be drawn either by the state legislature or redistricting commission or through a joint venture of both.

Usually, political parties prepare in advance for the redistricting because it is an important aspect in defining the political movements for the next decade.

Political parties have a deep eye on the data as it can impact their political campaigns in a big way. This time, the redistricting cycle lasting until 2030 seems to go in favor of Republicans.

2020 US Census

2020 US Census

Census 2020 and Redistricting: The Winners and the Losers

Although the detailed data on which official district lines will be drawn is yet to be released, the current data suggests that Republicans are at a clear advantage.

Some previous estimates suggested a shift of ten seats, but only seven seems possible now.

The red state of Texas is at the gaining end in the reapportionment, bagging two seats. At the same time, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon are expected to pick up one seat each. Florida and Colorado both gained one seat, less than expected, and Arizona missed out picking up even one.

On the other side, California, Michigan, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia will lose one seat each. Most of these states turned out blue in the last presidential elections, so Democrats are likely to suffer from the latest census data.

Minnesota was about to lose a House seat to New York but escaped the situation just because the count was 89 residents short of the next level in NY.

As Republicans are the prominent winners of the latest redistricting, many experts suggest that had the 2020 presidential elections been conducted according to the new census, the results would have been in little favor of Republicans.


Any Delay Further Will Hijack the Public Discourse

The 2020 census data was expected to come out earlier than April, and the redistricting cycle should have started by now, ideally. But the extraordinary times of pandemic delayed the result, and now redistricting is expected to begin in September.

This is already an alarming sign as the next year’s midterm elections are supposed to take place under the new boundaries. 

If the work is delayed any further, it will be a significant hurdle in the conduct of the next elections.

The data shows people’s inclination toward the southern states as the southern population continues to grow. 

At the end of the day, Republicans expect a solid shift from blue to red states due to this migration. 

If any delay happens in redistricting, Republicans will be able to blame Democrats for intentionally slowing down the proceedings for political gains.

This delay in the process could lead to excuses for rushing approval of maps that benefit one political party over another and distort community representations.


Republicans: The Clear Winners

Due to congressional redistricting from the 2020 census data, a shift in the political power is imminent as the redistricting cycle in Texas, Florida, and Georgia will be in Republicans’ favor. 

They could even pick up the crucial five seats from these states needed to establish a majority in the House of Representatives.

On the other side, Democrats will gain from the legislative districts of Illinois and Maryland. New York and Ohio are the biggest wild cards, where state legislatures could ignore the new maps and impose gerrymanders on a profoundly partisan basis.

However, there are few plot twists. Oregon Democrats have reached a deal with the Republican majority to redraw the maps.

This deal can cost them at least one House seat. Incumbents will also face serious challenges around the country as congressional redistricting will surely disorient and dislocate plenty of incumbents as they face hostile, unpredictable challenges that will emerge from this congressional redistricting.


Final Thoughts

The biggest assignment for the administration is to start the congressional redistricting and complete it as soon as possible.

It will increase the efficacy of the electoral system as devising new electoral roles will increase the participation of the masses in the democratic discourse.

It is also high time for Democratic leadership to realign their party in the red states so that they can give a tough time to the Republicans likely to gain the benefit of the census.

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